Church Offers Holocaust Apology
VILNIUS, Lithuania (AP) _ Lithuania’s Catholic Church issued an official apology Friday for not doing enough to prevent the massacre of some 220,000 Jews during the 1941-44 Nazi occupation.
``We are sorry the church did not show enough resistance in times when nationalist egoism was overtaking the values of the Bible,″ said the statement, signed by Lithuanian Archbishop Sigitas Tamkevicius.
``The memory of the church is depressed by the violence and hate that was used,″ the two-page document said.
More than 90 percent of Lithuania’s Jewish community _ one of Europe’s largest _ perished during Nazi rule in this predominantly Catholic nation. Killings were ordered by the German occupiers, but were often carried out by Lithuanian collaborators.
Friday’s statement alluded to collaborators and those who stood by as the killings occurred, saying ``some of the church’s children were short of love to Jews and short of willingness to influence Nazi collaborators.″
During a visit to Israel last month, Pope John Paul II said the Catholic Church was ``deeply saddened″ by Christian persecution of Jews through the centuries. But he stopped short of the apology many Jews were hoping for.
Since independence from Moscow in 1991, Lithuania has come under fire for not doing enough to face its Nazi past. Several Nazi war crimes trials, which began and were then halted, have also focused attention on the issue.
Earlier this year, the Lithuanian Catholic Church also apologized for the collaboration of some of its clergy with Soviet secret police, the KGB, during fifty years of rule by Moscow.