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  • » 05/26/2014, 00.00


    Pope at Yad Vashem: The voice of God and the shame of man in the endless abyss of the Shoah

    The speech - prayer of Pope Francis at the Memorial to the victims of the Holocaust. Man who claims to be god, who "tortured and killed " his brothers , and "offered in sacrifice" to himself. " “Here we are, Lord, shamed by what man, created in your own image and likeness, was capable of doing" The visit to the tomb of Theodor Herzl and the "Western Wall".

    Jerusalem (AsiaNews ) - "Adam, where are you?": With this question of "the Father who lost His son", fallen into an endless abyss, taken from the book of Genesis, begins the meditation - elegy of Pope Francis in the Memorial hall of Yad Vashem , where all the dead of the Holocaust are remembered. On the floor of the hall lit by a dim light the names of the concentration camps are written where 6 million Jews were killed . The pontiff was joined by some rabbis, the Israeli President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The ceremony was a very poignant ensemble of haunting Jewish melodies, sung by a chorus of girls, and the first hand accounts of deported Jews. Pope Francis, visibly moved , approached the eternal flame burning in the room, then in front of the center stone, laid a wreath of flowers. Then he greeted some survivors of the concentration camps one by one - kissing their hands. His greeting to them followed, which we re-publish in its entirety below.

    Before visiting Yad Vashem, the pope had laid flowers at the grave of Theodor Herzl , the founder of the Zionist movement (one of the new ceremonial requirements of the State of Israel) , in which the pontiff said a prayer and a visit to a plaque in memory of the Israeli victims of the terrorism in the immediate vicinity .

    Earlier this morning, immediately after the visit to the Temple Mount, Francis had gone to the Western Wall (the "Wailing Wall"), where he prayed in silence, placing his hand on the ancient stones of the foundation of the temple of Herod. Immediately after - as do all Israelis - he inserted a prayer between the cracks of the stones.

    The text, according to Vatican press office, contains the Lord's Prayer written in Spanish by the Pope himself. Later, the pope signed the Book of Honour at the Western Wall by adding a few lines from Psalm 122 (of pilgrims who come to Jerusalem, asking for peace in the city).

    Below we publish the Pope's speech at Yad Vashem Memorial :


    "Adam, where are you?" (cf. Gen 3:9).

    Where are you, o man? What have you come to?

    In this place, this memorial of the Shoah, we hear God's question echo once more:"Adam, where are you?"

    This question is charged with all the sorrow of a Father who has lost his child.

    The Father knew the risk of freedom; he knew that his children could be lost... yet perhaps not even the Father could imagine so great a fall, so profound an abyss!

    Here, before the boundless tragedy of the Holocaust, That cry - "Where are you?" - echoes like a faint voice in an unfathomable abyss...

    Adam, who are you? I no longer recognize you.

    Who are you, o man? What have you become?

    Of what horror have you been capable?

    What made you fall to such depths?

    Certainly it is not the dust of the earth from which you were made.

    The dust of the earth is something good, the work of my hands.

    Certainly it is not the breath of life which I breathed into you.

    That breath comes from me, and it is something good (cf. Gen 2:7).

    No, this abyss is not merely the work of your own hands, your own heart... Who corrupted you? Who disfigured you?

    Who led you to presume that you are the master of good and evil?

    Who convinced you that you were god? Not only did you torture and kill your brothers and sisters, but you sacrificed them to yourself, because you made yourself a god. Today, in this place, we hear once more the voice of God: "Adam, where are you?"

    From the ground there rises up a soft cry: "Have mercy on us, O Lord!"

    To you, O Lord our God, belongs righteousness; but to us confusion of face and shame (cf. Bar 1:15).

    A great evil has befallen us, such as never happened under the heavens (cf. Bar 2:2). Now, Lord, hear our prayer, hear our plea, save us in your mercy. Save us from this horror.

    Almighty Lord, a soul in anguish cries out to you.

    Hear, Lord, and have mercy!

    We have sinned against you. You reign for ever (cf. Bar 3:1-2).

    Remember us in your mercy. Grant us the grace to be ashamed of what we men have done,

    to be ashamed of this massive idolatry, of having despised and destroyed our own flesh which you formed from the earth, to which you gave life with your own breath of life.

    Never again, Lord, never again!

    "Adam, where are you?"

    Here we are, Lord, shamed by what man, created in your own image and likeness, was capable of doing.

    Remember us in your mercy.



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    See also

    26/03/2009 VATICAN – HOLY LAND
    Papal trip to the Holy Land rich in meaning
    The Vatican makes public the official programme of Benedict XVI’s visit to the Holy Land, scheduled for 8-15 May. It will be the third trip by a Pope in the modern era to the land where Jesus lived. In addition to the holy sites, the Holy Father will visit Yad Vashem, Amman’s main mosque, the Wailing Wall and the Dome of the Rock.

    11/05/2009 VATICAN – ISRAEL
    Holocaust can never be denied, belittled or forgotten, Pope says
    In a direct approach Benedict XVI addresses issues sensitive to Israel in an apparent attempt to meet expectations raised by his presence in the country.

    12/05/2009 VATICAN-ISRAEL
    Pope: friendship with Jews, dialogue with Islam and all together to work for peace
    In Jerusalem Benedict XVI goes to the Dome of the Rock and the Wailing Wall. With the Gran Mufti and Chief Rabbis he underlines the need to continue dialogue. But a Muslim exponent asks his help to put an end to Israeli “aggression”. Balloons bearing the Palestinian colours above the old city. Israeli newspapers criticise the discourse at Yad Vashem.

    17/11/2003 Vatican - Israel
    Pope Says: Holy Land needs bridges, not walls

    09/11/2014 VATICAN
    Pope John Paul II, a lead role in bringing down the Berlin Wall
    At the Angelus, Pope Francis hopes a culture of encounter may spread, "capable of bringing down all walls," so that there is no more persecution or killings because of one’s faith. “Where there's a wall there is closure of hearts. We need bridges, not walls”. Thanksgiving Day in Italy, solidarity with the world of agriculture, to "cultivate the land in a sustainable and inclusive way". Dedication of the Lateran Basilica, an opportunity to rediscover the Church as our "spiritual home” and Christians capable of giving witness to the faith in love. “We are Christian not because of what we say, but what we do".

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