GREETING OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS
TO THE DELEGATION OF THE "SIMON WIESENTHAL CENTER"
Hall of the Consistory
Monday, January 20, 2020
I welcome you. Your Center, active all over the world, aims to combat all forms of anti-Semitism, racism and hatred of minorities. For decades, contacts have existed with the Holy See: we share the desire to make the world a better place in respect of human dignity, a dignity that belongs to everyone in equal measure regardless of origin, religion and social status. It is so important to educate about tolerance and mutual understanding, freedom of religion and the promotion of social peace.
You contribute in a particular way to keeping the memory of the Holocaust alive. In a week, January 27th, we will remember the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. There, in 2016, I stopped to internalize and to pray in silence. Today, absorbed in the vortex of things, we struggle to stop, to look inside ourselves, to make silence to listen to the cry of suffering humanity. Today's consumerism is also verbal: how many useless words, how much time wasted contesting and accusing, how many offenses screamed, regardless of what is said. Silence, on the other hand, helps to preserve memory. If we lose our memory, we destroy the future. The anniversary of the unspeakable cruelty that humanity discovered seventy-five years ago is a call to stop us, to be silent and remember. We need it, in order not to become indifferent.
Concern about the rise, in many parts of the world, of selfish indifference, for which only what is convenient for oneself is concerned: life is good if it is good for me and when something is wrong, anger and wickedness are unleashed. Thus fertile grounds are prepared for the particularisms and populisms that we see around us. Hatred grows rapidly on these lands. Hatred. Sow hate. Still recently, we have witnessed the barbaric upsurge of anti-Semitism. I am not tired of firmly condemning all forms of anti-Semitism. To tackle the root problem, however, we must also commit ourselves to tilling the ground on which hatred grows, sowing peace. It is in fact through integration, research and understanding of the other that we protect ourselves more. Therefore it is urgent to reintegrate those who are marginalized, to reach out to those who are far away, to support those who are rejected because they have no means and money, to help those who are victims of intolerance and discrimination.
The Declaration Nostra aetate (cf. n. 4) underlines that we, Jews and Christians, have a rich common spiritual patrimony that we should increasingly discover to put it at the service of all. I feel that, in particular today, we are the first to be called to this service: not to distance ourselves and exclude, but to draw close and include us; not to support solutions of strength, but to start proximity paths. If we do not do it, who believe in the One who, from the heights of heaven, remembered us and took our weaknesses to heart, who will do it? I am reminded of those words from the book of Exodus: "God remembered his covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. God looked at the condition of the Israelites, God thought about it "(2,24-25). We too remember the past and take to heart the conditions of those who suffer: in this way we will cultivate the soil of fraternity.
Dear friends, I thank you for your commitment in this and I encourage you to intensify our collaboration in defense of the weakest. May the Most High help us to respect and love each other more and more, and to make the earth a better place, sowing peace. Shalom!