Thursday, May 07, 2009

Elisabeth Waldheim's Papal Award

VIENNA, Austria (AP) August 22, 1994 -- Another papal honor has been accorded the Waldheims, despite criticism over the papal knighthood granted to the former Austrian president and World War II German officer.

Papal Nuncio Archbishop Donato Squicciarini awarded Kurt Waldheim's wife, Elisabeth, the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Cross for her services to the Roman Catholic Church, the Neue Kronen Zeitung newspaper said Sunday.

On July 6, Waldheim was awarded the distinguished award of knighthood in the 147-year-old Order of Pius IX.

Waldheim's honor raised no waves in predominantly Roman Catholic Austria. But it angered Jews in Israel and elsewhere. Waldheim has been accused of complicity in war crimes because of his service with a German army unit in the Balkans blamed for atrocities. He has denied any involvement.

Israel has asked for Vatican clarification of the award.

Friday's award to Mrs. Waldheim was part of 50th wedding anniversary celebrations for the couple in Nussdorf, a village near Salzburg.