The National Catholic Review
Image

The Vatican has criticized Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s recent remarks about Israel at a U.N. conference on racism as “extremist and unacceptable” and said the comments promote an atmosphere of conflict. At the same time, Vatican officials, including Pope Benedict XVI, emphasized the importance of participation in the conference, which was being boycotted by the United States and several other Western countries. Ahmadinejad told conference participants April 20 that Israel had “resorted to military aggression to make an entire nation homeless under the pretext of Jewish suffering” and had established a “totally racist government in the occupied Palestine.” His comments prompted a temporary walkout by dozens of diplomats. The Vatican spokesman, Federico Lombardi, S.J., said “The Holy See deplores the use of this United Nations forum for the adoption of political positions of an extremist and offensive nature against any state.”