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Following is the text of the letter from Avner Shalev, Chairman of Yad Vashem, in Response to the Letter of Archbishop Antonio Franco

15 April 2007

Jerusalem, April 15, 2007

Archbishop Antonio Franco
Apostolic Nunciature
Apostolic Nuncio to Israel
Nativ Hamazalot 1
Old Jaffa

Dear Archbishop Franco,

I received your letter of April 3, 2007, in which you expressed your intention of abstaining from the Opening Ceremony of Holocaust Martyrs and Heroes Remembrance Day 2007, and was sorry to hear of it, particularly as this day and events are dedicated to the memory of the Holocaust and its victims.

In this respect I recall the words of His Holiness Pope John Paul II during his visit to Yad Vashem about the importance of commemorating the Holocaust: I have come to Yad Vashem to pay homage to the millions of Jewish people who, stripped of everything, especially of their human dignity were murdered in the Holocaust. More than half a century has passed, but the memories remain We wish to remember. I regret that you chose to link the commemoration of the Holocaust and its victims with this historical debate.

Here at Yad Vashem we are mandated to research the history of the Holocaust. The evaluation of the role of Pope Pius XII during the Holocaust poses a challenge to those who wish to seriously confront it. It is a complex issue, and we will continue to make sure that we are firmly rooted in the most updated historical truth. We would be pleased to examine any new documentation that may come to light on this issue.

As I mentioned previously, and as you state in your letter, I too look forward to a fruitful and constructive dialogue based on mutual understanding and goodwill.

Sincerely,
Avner Shalev
Chairman of the Directorate