Vatican City. At the beginning of the year, the tension in the Vatican’s relations with Israel rose since Israel on January 8 condemned a high-ranking Vatican official, Cardinal Renato Martino, for comparing the Gaza Strip to “a large concentration camp.” Cardinal Renato Martino leads the Vatican’s Council for Peace and Justice.
According to countryaah, Pope Benedict XVI received harsh criticism from German Chancellor Angela Merkel on February 3 for revoking an earlier decision within the Catholic Church to exclude the disputed Bishop Richard Williamson from the church. Williamson had denied that gas chambers were used in connection with the genocide of six million Jews in Nazi Germany during the Second World War. The Vatican admitted that a mistake had been made when Williamson was allowed to re-enter the Catholic Church and that this was due to “lack of communication”.
On May 8, Pope Benedict XVI embarked on an eight-day journey in the Holy Land. He visited Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian territories. It was his first pilgrimage to the region as pope. Upon arriving in Jordan, the Pope promised to use the trip to “talk about his deep respect” for the Muslim community. When the Pope arrived in Tel Aviv in Israel on May 11, he advocated in a speech the formation of a Palestinian “homeland” but at the same time vigorously expressed anti-Semitism worldwide. Benedict XVIreceived criticism from Israel, however, in connection with a memorial service at Yad Vashem, Israel’s monument in memory of the Holocaust. Some audience members felt that the pope did not express enough remorse at the visit. Over the years, the Catholic Church has been criticized for being passive about the Nazi genocide of Jews and Roma during the Second World War. On May 13, the Pope visited the Palestinian refugee camp Aida outside Bethlehem. He then repeated his plea for the creation of “a sovereign Palestinian homeland” and said that the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip should cease.
In the fall, an exhibition in the Vatican City of Galileo Galilei’s work was shown to mark the 400th anniversary of the birth of “the founder of modern astronomy”. Galilei challenged the church’s position and worldview when he theoretically proved with his instruments that the predecessor Copernicus was right when he claimed that it was the earth that orbited the sun – not the contrary, as the church claimed. Galilei was brought to trial by the Catholic Church and declared a repeal. It was not until 1992 that Pope John Paul II declared that the Catholic Church’s decision at that time was wrong and that Catholics are not hostile to science.
In October, the Pope announced that the Anglican Church could become its own branch of the Catholic Church. Among the Anglican leaders there were different views on this offer.
Many people around the world were shaken by the assault on Pope Benedict XVI that occurred during the opening of the Mass at St. Peter’s Church on Christmas night. A woman in one of the church’s benches suddenly jumped up to the Pope when he, along with the Cardinals, walked up the aisle on the way to the center of the church. The woman’s hopes caused the pope to fall to the floor before security guards could take her away. The Pope and his companion then proceeded to the altar and, despite being shaken, the Pope could complete the Mass. The woman was arrested by police immediately after the assault.