On International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Pope Francis summoned the world to remember the victims of the Holocaust so that this atrocity can never be repeated.
On Friday morning, the Pope met with a delegation from the European Jewish Congress, which represents over 2 million Jews in Europe, and underscored the importance of International Holocaust Remembrance Day not only for the Jews, but for the rest of the world as well.
After the meeting, the Pope tweeted a similar message, calling on people to never forget the sufferings and tears of Holocaust victims.
Today I want to remember in my heart all the victims of the Holocaust. May their sufferings and their tears never be forgotten.
— Pope Francis (@Pontifex) January 27, 2017
The Secretary of the Pontifical Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, Fr. Norbert Hofmann, was present at the meeting and recounted to Vatican Radio what had transpired during the encounter.
The 5-person delegation, he said, represents more than 2 million Jews in Europe and was led by Moshe Kantor, the President of the Congress. Kantor spoke on the importance of ethics, and of the values held in common by Christians and Jews. In our world we see much progress, he said, but also a decline in moral and ethical values.
It is imperative, he said, to strengthen these values we share, especially through education and the family.
According to Fr. Hofmann, the Pope recalled his own childhood, noting that “in his family, his father often had Jews over” and that already as a boy, Bergoglio had Jewish friends.
Last October, Pope Francis welcomed a group of 33 survivors of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp after his general audience in St Peter’s Square.
Francis greeted the Auschwitz survivors one by one, as well as family members of prisoners deported to the camps of Ravensbrück, Mauthausen and Flossenbürg.
The Pope visited the Auschwitz-Birkenau camps last July during his trip to Poland for World Youth Day. For nearly the duration of his two-hour visit to the camps, he remained silent, only exchanging private words with a small group of Holocaust survivors, including a 101-year-old.
He also met with 25 “Righteous among the Nations,” an honorific title bestowed by the State of Israel on gentiles who risked their lives during the Holocaust to save Jews.
“We are strangers no more, but friends, and brothers and sisters,” the Pope said in a 2015 meeting of the International Council of Christians and Jews.
“Even with our different perspectives, we confess one God, Creator of the Universe and Lord of history,” he said.
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