Vatican     FATIMA SHINE'S NAZI CONNECTIONS COULD THREATEN RELATIONS WITH JEWS
It emerged on Wednesday that the custodians of the shrine in Fatima which Pope John Paul II will visit during his visit to Portugal next month, banked Nazi gold stolen from Jewish victims.
   It's feared that the disclosure could threaten the momentum towards Christian-Jewish reconciliation achieved by the Pope on his historic visit to the Holy Land last month.
   Next month the Holy Father will pray at the shrine to the Virgin Mary at Fatima in Portugal to thank her for 'saving his life' nearly 20 years ago.
   The attack on the Pope by a Turkish gunman in St Peters Square in 1981 took place on 13 May, the Feast Day of Our Lady of Fatima. The pontiff, who survived the assault, later donated the bullet extracted from his body to the shrine, which commemorates an apparition by the Virgin Mary to three Portuguese peasant children in 1917.
   But yesterday Father Luciano Guerra, the chief custodian of the Fatima shrine, confirmed reports in Visao, a Portuguese magazine, that in 1942 the shrine had received 110lb of gold ingots from Nazi Germany. He told the Italian Corriere della Sera newspaper that he had been 'unaware until recently' that the gold had been stolen from Jewish victims of the Nazis.
   Antonio Louca, a Portuguese historian, claimed that the ingots had been made from gold objects taken from Dutch Jews sent to Nazi camps. Father Guerra said the gold had 'disappeared' in 1970, before he took charge of the shrine, and had gone to 'an unknown destination'.
   
Times
7/4/00

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