During a meeting with a delegation from the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Francis reiterated the Church's condemnation of anti-Semitism, expressing concerns about “an increase in selfishness and indifference, lack of concern for others and the attitude that says life is good as long as it is good for me, and when things go wrong, anger and malice are unleashed.” For the pontiff, “This creates a fertile ground for the forms of factionalism and populism we see around us, where hatred quickly springs up.”
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis met this morning with a delegation from the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a few days before the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camps.
In his address, the pontiff stressed that it is through integration, examination and the understanding of others that the growing tide of anti-Semitism, racism and hatred of minorities in the world can be fought.
The meeting gave the pontiff an opportunity to express his concerns over “an increase in selfishness and indifference, lack of concern for others and the attitude that says life is good as long as it is good for me, and when things go wrong, anger and malice are unleashed. This creates a fertile ground for the forms of factionalism and populism we see around us, where hatred quickly springs up.”
“For decades, you (the center) have maintained contacts with the Holy See,” the Pope said, “in a shared desire to make the world a better place in respect for human dignity. Such dignity is due to every person in equal measure, regardless of his or her ethnic origin, religion or social status. It is essential to teach tolerance, mutual understanding and freedom of religion, and the promotion of peace within society.”
A week from today (27 January) will mark the liberation of Auschwitz, which Francis visited in 2016 (pictured). “I went there to reflect and to pray in silence. In our world, with its whirlwind of activity, we find it hard to pause, to look within and to listen in silence to the plea of suffering humanity.
“Our consumerist society also squanders words: how many unhelpful words are spoken, how much time is wasted in arguing, accusing, shouting insults, without a real concern for what we say. Silence, on the other hand, helps to keep memory alive. If we lose our memory, we destroy our future.
“May the anniversary of the unspeakable cruelty that humanity learnt of seventy-five years ago serve as a summons to pause, to be still and to remember. We need to do this, lest we become indifferent.”
“Even recently, we have witnessed a barbaric resurgence of cases of antisemitism. Once more I firmly condemn every form of antisemitism. To tackle the cause of the problem, however, we must commit ourselves also to tilling the soil in which hatred grows and sowing peace instead. For it is through integration and seeking to understand others that we more effectively protect ourselves.
“Hence it is urgent to reintegrate those who are marginalised, to reach out to those far away, to support those ignored for lack of resources or funds, and assist to those who are victims of intolerance and discrimination.”
Jews and Christians have “a rich spiritual heritage”. For this reason, they “are called, especially today, to such service: 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 – we who believe in Him who from on high remembered us and showed compassion for our weaknesses – then who will? I am reminded of the words of the Book of Exodus: ‘God was mindful of his covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. God saw the Israelites, and God knew’ (2:24-25).
“Let us too remember the past and have compassion for those who suffer, and this way till the soil of fraternity.