Pope Francis: Jewish Holocaust ‘Must Be Commemorated’

n this handout provided by the Israeli Government Press Office (GPO), Pope Francis visits the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum with Israeli President Shimon Peres and Prime Ministrer Benjamin Netanyahu, on May 26, 2014 in Jerusalem, Israel. Pope Francis arrived in Israel on Sunday afternoon, a day after landing in the …
Amos Ben Gershom - GPO /Getty

Pope Francis recalled the importance of remembering the Shoah Monday, insisting that anti-Semitism must be eradicated from the planet.

“The Holocaust must be commemorated so that there will be a living memory of the past,” the pope told delegates of the World Congress of Mountain Jews in the Vatican. “Without a living memory, there will be no future, for if the darkest pages of history do not teach us to avoid the same errors, human dignity will remain a dead letter.”

Francis said that anti-Semitism continues to be a problem in the world and must be fought by Christians and Jews alike.

“Sadly, anti-Semitic attitudes are also present in our own times,” he said. “As I have often repeated, a Christian cannot be an anti-Semite; we share the same roots. It would be a contradiction of faith and life.”

“Rather, we are called to commit ourselves to ensure anti-Semitism is banned from the human community,” he said.

Along with the Shoah, the pope also called to mind two other anniversaries of anti-Jewish violence that must never be forgotten.

“Another dramatic seventy-fifth anniversary took place on 16 October last: that of the raid on the Roman ghetto,” he said. “Just a few days from now, 9 November will mark the eightieth anniversary of the Kristallnacht, when many Jewish places of worship were destroyed, not least with the intent of uprooting from the hearts of individuals and a people that which is absolutely inviolable: the presence of the Creator.”

These tragic events remind humanity of the need for religious liberty for all, the pope insisted.

“The attempt to replace the God of goodness with the idolatry of power and the ideology of hatred ended in the folly of exterminating creatures,” he said. “Consequently, religious freedom is a supreme good to be safeguarded, a fundamental human right and a bulwark against the claims of totalitarianism.”

This is not the first time the pope has condemned anti-Semitism, along with the indifference that allows it to perpetuate.

Not only those who perpetrate violence and spread hate are to blame for the evils of anti-Semitism, he said last January, but also those who allow it to fester through their indifference or apathy.

Speaking before participants in a conference against anti-Semitism, Francis underscored the wider complicity of a society that sometimes turns a blind eye to the evils being carried out in its midst.

The enemy against which we fight “is not only hatred in all of its forms,” Francis said, “but even more fundamentally, indifference; for it is indifference that paralyzes and impedes us from doing what is right even when we know that it is right.”

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