THE Vatican really did have no knowledge of the Nazi's systematic extermination of Jews during World War II, it was claimed last night.
As Father Raniero Cantalamessa, Pope Benedict's personal preacher, compared criticism of the Pontiff to anti-semitic violence, experts said the Vatican's long-standing claims of ignorance over the holocaust may not be such an obvious lie after all.
Historian Tom Logan, said: "Maybe they think the Nazis just criticised the Jews very, very harshly to the point where some of them fainted and bumped their heads.
"Or perhaps they were so distracted by the personal nature of the Nazi's verbal attacks that they forgot to put their slippers on and banged their toe on the leg of a coffee table.
"Then again that can hurt quite a lot, so I'm still not sure it's a valid comparison."
Logan added: "It's odd that the Pope would be so fuzzy about anti-semitism, because I'm pretty sure that as a member of the Hitler Youth he would have had to earn some sort of badge for doing it really, really well."
Nathan Muir, professor of European History at Reading University, said: "When someone compares something to anti-semitic violence you always expect them to finish the sentence with, 'except for the death factories and the six million murders of course'.
"But in this instance, either he's dropped the piece of paper that said that, or the Vatican really doesn't know about the holocaust.
"Or he's a shit."