VIENNA, Sept. 8 (UPI) -- Pope Benedict XVI, a tribute to Holocaust victims in Vienna, expressed "our sadness, our repentance and our friendship with the Jewish people."
The pope joined Vienna's chief rabbi, Paul Chaim Eisenberg, for prayers in front of a monument to 65,000 Jews from Vienna killed by the Nazis during World War II, The Independent reported Saturday.
Vienna's Jewish population dropped from 185,000 before 1938 to less than 7,000 today, the British newspaper reported. In a welcome address for the pope, Austrian President Heinz Fischer said his country had experienced "dark hours in its history."
Friday's Holocaust tribute marked the beginning of the pope's three-day visit to Austria, where two-thirds of Roman Catholics have left the church during the last two decades over issues of contraception, homosexuality, gay marriage and Aids, The Independent reported.