On Sunday, Pope Francis denounced “the great powers” of the time for not stopping the Holocaust out of “self-interest,” by failing to bomb the railroads heading to concentration camps when they knew what was going on there.
In a meeting with young people during his visit to Turin over the weekend, Francis said he understood why young people often feel distrust toward their leaders, using the example of tragedies from the past century as an example.
Speaking of the “tragedy of the Shoah,” the Pope asserted that “the great powers had photographs of the railway lines carrying trains to the concentration camps, such as Auschwitz, to kill the Jews, and also Christians, Roma and homosexuals.”
“But tell me, why didn’t they bomb them? Self-interest!” he said.
The Pope cited the example of the Armenian Genocide as well, again wondering aloud why the world leaders of the day did not intervene to stop the slaughter.
“So many died,” Francis said. “I do not know the figure, but more than a million certainly.”
“And where were the great powers of that time? They looked the other way. Why? Because they were concerned with the war: their war!” he said. And they looked upon the Armenians who died as “second-class human beings.”
The Pope also spoke of the “concentration camps in Stalinist Russia.”
“How many Christians suffered, how many were killed!” he asked. “The great powers divided up Europe like a cake.”
According to the Pope, this sort of apathy toward world tragedies is still evident today, with world leaders sitting by while a “World War III fought piecemeal” rages.
“There is war In Europe, there is war in Africa, there is war in the Middle East, there is war in other countries… How can I have confidence in such a life?” he asked. “How can I trust world leaders?”
The Pope said it was easy to understand why young people feel disillusioned and distrustful.
“Today we are still living in a throwaway culture. Because what is not economically useful is discarded. Children are discarded—either by not having any or by killing them before they are born. Old people are discarded, because they are no longer useful and are left to die in a sort of hidden euthanasia,” he said.
“If all your trust is in human beings, you are lost!” he said.
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome