By Deborah Castellano Lubov

“Even recently, we have witnessed a barbaric resurgence of cases of anti-Semitism.”

Pope Francis decried this to a delegation from the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a human rights and research group, today, Jan. 20, 2020, in the Vatican.

A week before the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp, the Pontiff called on the world to never become indifferent nor complicit, and for Jews and Christians to work together.

The Declaration Nostra Aetate, the Pope said, stresses that “we, Jews and Christians, have a rich common spiritual patrimony, which we must increasingly discover to put it at the service of all.”

“I feel that, today in particular,” he reflected, “we ourselves are called first to this service: not to distance ourselves and exclude, but to make ourselves close and to include, not to force solutions but to initiate ways of proximity.”

“If we don’t do it, who believe in Him, who from the highest Heaven remembered us and took to heart our weaknesses, who will do it?” he asked.

The Argentinian Pontiff lamented how troubling it is to see around the world an increase in selfishness and indifference, a 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,” he lamented, “creates a fertile ground for the forms of factionalism and populism we see around us, where hatred quickly springs up … where hatred is seminated.”

It is urgent, the Pope said, “to reintegrate those who are marginalized, to reach out to those far away, to support those that are rejected because they don’t have means and money, to help those that are victims of intolerance and discrimination.”

Pope Francis concluded, thanking them for their commitment and encouraging them to intensify their collaboration in defense of the weakest. “May the Almighty help us to respect one another and to love one another more, and to make the earth a better place by sowing seeds of peace. Shalom!” he prayed.

Here is ZENIT’s working translation of the Pope’s address:

***

Dear Friends,

I welcome you. Your Center, active throughout the world, seeks to combat all forms of antisemitism, racism and hatred towards minorities. For decades, you have maintained contacts with the Holy See: in a shared desire to make the world a better place in respect for human dignity. This dignity is due to every person in equal measure, regardless of his or her ethnic origin, religion or social status. It is so important to teach tolerance and mutual understanding, freedom of religion and the promotion of social peace.

In a particular way, you help to keep alive the memory of the Holocaust. A week from now, January 27, the 75th anniversary will be observed of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. In 2016, I paused there to reflect and pray in silence. Today, absorbed in the whirlwind of things, we find it hard to pause, to look within and to listen in silence to the cry of suffering humanity. Today’s consumerism is also verbal: how many useless words, how much time is wasted in arguing and accusing, shouting insults, without a real concern for what we say. Silence, instead, helps to preserve the memory. If we lose our memory, we annihilate the future. May the anniversary of the unspeakable cruelty that humanity learned seventy-five years ago serve as a summons to pause, to be silent and to remember. We need to do this, lest we become indifferent.

Troubling, in many parts of the world, is the increase of an egoistic indifference, where the only thing that interests is what makes one comfortable: life is fine if it suits me, and when things go wrong, anger and malice are unleashed. Thus, fertile ground is prepared for factionalism and populism, which we see around us, where hatred quickly springs up. Hatred. Sow hatred. Even recently, we have witnessed a barbaric resurgence of antisemitism. I don’ tire of condemning firmly every form of antisemitism. However, in order to address the problem at the root, we must commit ourselves to tilling the soil in which hatred grows, sowing peace in it. It is, in fact, through integration, the search and understanding of the other that we protect ourselves more. Hence it is urgent to reintegrate those who are marginalized, to reach out to those far away, to support those that are rejected because they don’t have means and money, to help those that are victims of intolerance and discrimination.

The Declaration Nostra Aetate (Cf. no. 4) stresses that we, Jews and Christians, have a rich common spiritual patrimony, which we must increasingly discover to put it at the service of all. I feel that, today in particular, we ourselves are called first to this service: not to distance ourselves and exclude, but to make ourselves close and to include, not to force solutions but to initiate ways of proximity. If we don’t do it, who believe in Him, who from the highest Heaven remembered us and took to heart our weaknesses, who will do it? There comes to mind those words of the Book of Exodus: “God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob. And God saw the people of Israel — and God knew their condition” (2:24-25). Let us too remember the past and take to heart the conditions of those that suffer: in this way we will till the soil of fraternity.

Dear friends, I thank you for your commitment to this end and I encourage you to intensify our collaboration in defense of the weakest. May the Almighty help us to respect one another and to love one another more, and to make the earth a better place by sowing seeds of peace. Shalom!

[Original Text: Italian]
[Vatican-provided text]

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