Pope: Responsibility and common memory against indifference and anti-Semitism
Two days after International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Pope Francis met with the participants in the International Conference on the responsibility of states, institutions and individuals in the fight against anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic hate crimes. Representatives of Italy’s Jewish communities were also present. Cain, the pope noted, is not interested in his brother: “here is the root of perversity, the root of death that produces desperation and silence.” For him, “we need a common memory, living and faithful, that should not remain imprisoned in resentment.” Young people need to be informed and educated in the matter.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis today received in audience the participants in the International Conference on the responsibility of states, institutions and individuals in the fight against anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic hate crimes, held today in Rome. The meeting comes two days after International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
In his address, the pontiff stressed helping each other to develop “a culture of responsibility, of memory and of closeness, and to establish an alliance against indifference, against every form of indifference.”
The conference was organised in cooperation with various international organisations as well as the Unione delle comunità ebraiche italiane (Union of Italian Jewish Communities) and the Centro di Documentazione Ebraica Contemporanea (Centre for Contemporary Jewish Documentation).
In his short speech, the pontiff first emphasised the notion of responsibility. “We are responsible when we are able to respond. It is not merely a question of analyzing the causes of violence and refuting their perverse reasoning, but of being actively prepared to respond to them. Thus, the enemy against which we fight is not only hatred in all of its forms, 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.”
Citing Cain’s “indifference” towards Abel (Genesis, 4:9), the pope said that “His brother does not interest him: here is the root of perversity, the root of death that produces desperation and silence. I recall the roar of the deafening silence I sensed two years ago in Auschwitz-Birkenau: a disturbing silence that leaves space only for tears, for prayer and for the begging of forgiveness.”
Citing Deuteronomy (8:2), he draws on the importance of remembrance, urging people to “remember, or bring alive; do not let the past die. Remember, that is, “return with your heart”: do not only form the memory in your mind, but in the depths of your soul, with your whole being. And do not form a memory only of what you like, but of ‘your whole journey’. [. . .] we need this memory, this capacity to involve ourselves together in remembering. Memory is the key to accessing the future, and it is our responsibility to hand it on in a dignified way to young generations.”
The Holy Father also quoted from the documents of the Second Vatican Council (Nostra Aetate, on the relationship between Christians and Jews) and the Letter of John Paul II which introduces the document We Remember: A Reflection on the Shoah.
“To build our history, which will either be together or will not be at all, we need a common memory, living and faithful, that should not remain imprisoned in resentment but, though riven by the night of pain, should open up to the hope of a new dawn. The Church desires to extend her hand. She wishes to remember and to walk together.
In concluding, Francis noted that “The potentialities of information will certainly be of assistance; even more important will be those of formation. We need urgently to educate young generations to become actively involved in the struggle against hatred and discrimination, but also in the overcoming of conflicting positions in the past, and never to grow tired of seeking the other.