In his address on 20 January to members of a delegation from the Simon Wiesenthal Centre led by Rabbi Marvin Hier, Pope Francis recalled his visit to Auschwitz–Birkenau on 26 July 2016, and reiterated his condemnation of antisemitism in every form.
Noting that 27 January will mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the concentration camp, Pope Francis reflected, “May the anniversary of the unspeakable cruelty that humanity learned of seventy-five years ago serve as a summons to pause, to be still and to remember”.
Pope Francis concluded with a prayer to “make the earth a better place by sowing seeds of peace”. We need to put the “rich spiritual patrimony that Jews and Christians possess” at the service of others, he said. “Not to take the path of distance and exclusion, but that of proximity and inclusion; not to force solutions, but to initiate ways of drawing closer together”. “If we do not do this”, asked Pope Francis, “then who will?”
The Simon Wiesenthal Centre has had a longstanding friendship with the Holy See over many decades, strengthened by regular visits to the Vatican and contact with the Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews.
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