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Pope condemns grave vandals

VATICAN CITY (CNS): Pope John Paul II condemned the desecration of graves in Rome’s Jewish cemetery and an ‘analogous series of events occurring with worrying frequency’ around Europe.

Headstones, Stars of David and marble slabs on about 50 graves in the Jewish section of Rome’s Verano cemetery were smashed or toppled overnight on July 17-18.

Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Vatican secretary of state, sent a telegram to Rome’s chief rabbi, Riccardo di Segni on July 19, expressing the Pope’s condolences to the city’s Jewish community and condemning the acts and the ‘anti-Jewish sentiments which inspire them’.

The cardinal said the Pope was ‘deeply saddened by the detestable gesture’ and by attacks on cemeteries and synagogues that have occurred in other parts of Europe and on other continents over the past months.

The Pope prayed God would comfort the families of those buried in the desecrated graves and would grant ‘eternal peace to the deceased of the (Jewish) community which is dear to him,’ the cardinal wrote.

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