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New Pope book hits Jewish sensitivities

A new book by Pope John Paul II, in which he likens abortion to a new Holocaust, has outraged Jewish groups appalled by what they say is a lack of understanding on the part of the Church.

The comparison is highlighted in a passage of the Holy Father's fifth book, "Memory and Identity", a volume of reflections on ideological conflicts of the 20th century released to Italian newspapers ahead of its publication in Italy on Wednesday.

The president of the Central Council for Jews in Germany, Paul Spiegel, attacked the passage in which the Pope links abortion to the mass extermination of six million Jews by Adolf Hitler's Nazi regime.

Alluding to a similar link made by German Cardinal Joachim Meisner in January, Spiegel said it was an unacceptable comparison".

It showed that "the Catholic Church does not understand or does not want to understand that there is an enormous difference between mass genocide and what women do with their bodies".

In the passage which has so offended Jewish groups, the pope begins by saying that "anti-Gospel is the new form of totalitarianism" and that this new totalitarianism is "insidiously hidden behind the appearance of democracy".

"It was a legally elected parliament which allowed the election of Hitler in Germany in the 30s. The same Reichstag gave Hitler the power which opened the way for the political invasion of Europe, the creation of concentration camps, the introcution of the so-called 'final solution' to the Jewish question which led to the extermination of millions of sons and daugthers of Israel."

The pope adds that, just as in the past, there is a need to question the legislation of parliaments which are the product of contemporary democracy.

"The most immediate association of ideas which comes to mind are the laws on abortion. Parliaments which create and promulgate such laws must be conscious that they are abusing their power and remain in open conflict with the law of God".

Pope book riles Jews by comparing abortion to Holocaust (Yahoo/AFP 21/2/05)

Pope John Paul II: Memory and Identity - Personal Reflections (Rainbow Books - Australian distributor)
Memory and Identity: Personal Reflections (Amazon)
'Memory and Identity': In new book, pope looks back at 20th century (Catholic News Service 8/10/04)
Pope aiming for new bestseller with "Memory and Identity" (AFP/People News 6/10/04)

Pope, new book: Abortion is like holocaust (AGI 20/2/05)
Pope absent from Vatican mass (Yahoo/AFP 19/2/05)
Pope reads address in strong voice (CNN 20/2/05)
Pope absent from Vatican mass (Yahoo/AFP 19/2/05)
Curia prays for the Pope's health in St Peter's Basilica ( 19/2/05)
Angelus: the Pope speaks again to the faithful after his illness ( 20/2/05)
Pope appears in good form during Sunday address at St. Peter's Square (Catholic Online/Associated Press 20/2/05)
Pope faces heavy schedule of events planned before hospitalization (Catholic News Service 18/2/05)
Cardinal Sodano to replace Pope at Saturday Mass (Catholic World News 18/2/05)
Pope Describes 1981 Shooting in New Book (The Guardian/Associated Press 18/2/05)
Pope Calls on Catholics to Work for Peace (The Guardian/Associated Press 18/2/05)
World Leaders Criticize Pope's Books (The Guardian/Associated Press 19/2/05)
Pope Criticized on Abortion View in Book (The Guardian/Associated Press 19/2/05)
Pope Appears in Good Form During Address (The Guardian/Associated Press 18/2/05)
Pope's telegram for the murder of Hariri (Missionary Service News Agency 19/2/05)
John L Allen: Israelis and Palestinians to meet pope officially and together (National Catholic Reporter 18/2/05)
Pope Delivers First Full Address After Illness (Reuters 20/2/05)
Pope tells of God guiding bullet and saving his life (Associated Press/Sydney Morning Herald 18/2/05)
Pope delivers first full address (Reuters/The Mercury 21/2/05)
Papal telegram of condolences for death of Rafik Hariri (Vatican Information Service 18/2/05)
Pope to visit Italian President Ciampi on April 29 (Vatican Information Service 18/2/05)
Papal appeal for aid to peoples of Sahel region of Africa (Vatican Information Service 18/2/05)
Pope John Paul II Delivers Weekly Address From Vatican (Associated Press/Voice of America 18/2/05)
For Many, Hope Is Very Difficult, Says Preacher (Zenit 18/2/05)
John Paul II Condemns Assassination in Lebanon (Zenit 18/2/05)
Pope to Visit Italian President (Zenit 18/2/05)
John Paul II's 5th Book Due Out Next Week (Zenit 18/2/05)

21 Feb 2005