[MSNBC photo of Cardinal Renato Martino]
Pope Benedict XVI is planning to visit Israel - er, was planning to visit Israel.
But things are not going well between the Vatican and the Jews. Well, partly because Cardinal Renato Martino, head poohbah for the Vatican Council for Justice and Peace, made a statement that upset the Israelis. Martino is "one of the Pope's closest aides," and therefore one might assume that his thoughts and words often reflect the thinking of the Pope.
Martino made a statement the other day in which he "compared Gaza to a concentration camp. The cardinal criticised Israel for killing civilians who had taken shelter at a UNrun school in Gaza."
"Defenceless populations are always the ones who pay," said Martino. "Look at the conditions in Gaza: more and more, it resembles a big concentration camp."
Martino did, however, also condem Hama's rocket attacks on Israel and noted that Israel did have the right to defend itself.
All of this was just the latest chapter of a growing conflict between the Vatican and Italy's Jews. The latter are also upset about the pontiff's plans to beautify Pope Pius XII, who was the pope during WWII and has been accused of failing to protect Jews from the Holocaust.
The Vatican rejects that accusation and is demanding "the removal of a plaque attacking Pius XII at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem."
So, the long, sordid story of enmity between Jews and Christians continues; perhaps for another 2,000 years.
Oh, one more thing: Cardinal Renato is also the guy who told Catholics to stop giving money to Amnesty International because Amnesty International is now supporting abortion in cases of rape or where a mother's health is in danger.