Austria's President Kurt Waldheim arrived in Rome on June 24 for a meeting with Pope John Paul the Second which provoked a storm of protest worldwide.
VATICAN, JUNE 23 (FIORI)
1. SV Tullia Zevi, President of Union of Italian Jewish Communities, speaking. (English SOT) 0.20
ROME, JUNE 24 (FERRARIO)
2. SV Rabbi Avi Weiss at press conference. 0.24
3. SCU Rabbi Weiss speaking. (English SOT) 0.32
4. SVs Waldheim arriving with wife at Leonardo da Vinci airport. (2 SHOTS) 1.01
5. (MUTE): GVs Hotel Columbus. (4 SHOTS) 1.22
TRANSCRIPT: ZEVI: (SEQ 1) "We were painfully surprised by the decision, not because of the visit, but because of the time at which it occurs. We believe it would have been better for the Vatican to follow the same path as all the democratic governments in the world who decided to adopt a wait and see attitude."
WEISS: (SEQ 3) "The Vatican's embrace of Waldheim is a protection for the Nazi criminal."
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Background: VATICAN/ROME, ITALY
Austria's President Kurt Waldheim arrived in Rome on June 24 for a meeting with Pope John Paul the Second which provoked a storm of protest worldwide. The former United States (UN) Secretary General has been accused by Jewish groups of shielding a Nazi past. Five protesters, including French Nazi hunter Beate Klarsfeld and New York Rabbi Avi Weiss, were detained by Italian police at the airport when they tried to break through a heavy security cordon shortly before Waldheim's arrival. Jewish activists wearing mock Nazi concentration camp uniforms earlier protested in St. Peter's
Square and said further demonstrations would be staged while Waldheim remained in Rome. Before Waldheim's arrival, fire broke out in a hotel room near the Vatican and police searching the room found smokebombs and leaflets opposing the meeting. Investigators believe the occupants may have been preparing a protest action when one of the smokebombs went off, igniting a small fire. International Jewish groups have appealed to the Pope not to meet Waldheim on June 25, and warned that the audience could gravely threaten a 20-year dialogue aimed at reconciliation between the Catholic and Jewish faith.
Source: REUTERS - ANGELO FIORI/ROLANDO FERRARIO/RAI