Mackay blasts Vatican over gold
By PATRICK WEST
THE VATICAN has once again been singled out for criticism for its refusal to open its archives on Jewish gold plundered by the Nazis, following the publication of
the Tripartite Gold Commission's report this week.
The 800-page document. a summary of reports submitted by 43 nations at a conference last December, is intended to establish the whereabouts of remaining assets seized by the Nazis from 1933 to 1945.
The Vatican was one of many states to attend the conference as an observer. However. the Holy See is widely suspected of laundering gold stolen by the Nazis and has consequently come in for criticism beyond that of the vocal Jewish lobby.
Lord Mackay of Clashfern, the report's author and chairman of the conference, singled out the Vatican for its unto-operative stance.
The former Lord Chancellor said: "The Holy See delegation, which had made it clear from the outset that they were attending only as observers, did not respond to requests to open up its wartime records."
The Vatican's continued intransigent position on Nazi gold, which has inflamed many Jewish groups, was aggravated this March when the Vatican document We Remember defended Pope Pius Xll's conduct in the War, and largely exonerated the Roman Catholic Church of collective responsibility for the Holocaust.
Nonetheless, this week The Holocaust Educational Trust said that it was optimistic that there would be progress over Vatican archives.
A meeting with the Vatican in July was described by Lord Hunt of Wirral, a trustee. as "most positive and helpful".
The World Jewish
Conference told the conference last year that the Nazis looted at least £519 million in gold (£5.3 billion in today's money). Swiss banks agreed last week to pay $1.25 billion towards the survivors of the holocaust and their families.
The original documents from the Tripartite Gold Commission. set up in 1946 to redistribute seized Nazi gold, are expected to be made public in the next few weeks.