|Catholic Church is deeply
saddened by any acts of anti-Semitism by Christians
After paving a courtesy call
on Israeli President Ezer Weizman on Thursday morning, 23 March,
the Holy Father when to Yad Vashem, Israel's principal Holocaust
memorial. A brief service was held in the Hall of Remembrance,
during which the Pope paused in prayer before the eternal flame
and, with the help of Cardinals Cassidy and Etchegaray, laid a
wreath of yellow and white daisies over the place where the
ashes of many death camp victims are interred. The Holy Father
later met a group of survivors from his hometown of Wadowice as
well as his former classmate Jerzy Kluger. During his visit the
Pope gave the following address in English. Here is the text.
The words of the ancient Psalm
rise from our hearts:
"I have become Iike a broken vessel.
I hear the whispering of many—terror on every side!—as they scheme together against me, as they plot to take my
life. But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, ‘You are my God’". (Ps
1. In this place of memories, the mind and heart and soul
feel an extreme need for silence. Silence in which to remember.
Silence in which to try to make some sense of the memories which
come flooding back. Silence because there are no words strong
enough to deplore the terrible tragedy of the Shoah. My
own personal memories are of all that happened when the Nazis
occupied Poland during the War. I remember my Jewish friends and
neighbors, some of whom perished, while others survived.
I have come to Yad Vashem to pay homage to the millions of
Jewish people who, stripped of everything, especially of their
human dignity, were murdered in the Holocaust. More than half a
century has passed, but the memories remain.
Here, as at Auschwitz and many other places in Europe, we are
overcome by the echo of the heartrending laments of so many.
Men, women and children cry out to us from the depths of the
horror that they knew. How can we fail to heed their cry? No one
can forget or ignore what happened. No one can diminish its
2. We wish to remember. But we wish to remember for a
purpose, namely to ensure that never again will evil prevail, as
it did for the millions of innocent victims of Nazism.
How could man have such utter contempt for man? Because he
had reached the point of contempt for God. Only a Godless
ideology could plan and carry out the extermination of a whole
The honour given to the "just gentiles" by the
State of Israel at Yad Vashem for having acted heroically to
save Jews, sometimes to the point of giving their own lives, is
a recognition that not even in the darkest hour is every light
extinguished. That is why the Psalms, and the entire Bible,
though well aware of the human capacity for evil, also proclaim
that evil will not have the last word. Out of the depths of pain
and sorrow, the believer's heart cries out: "I trust in
you, O Lord; I say, ‘You are my God’" (Ps
3. Jews and Christians share an immense spiritual patrimony,
flowing from God's self-revelation. Our religious teachings and
our spiritual experience demand that we overcome evil with
We remember, but not with any desire for vengeance or as an
incentive to hatred. For us, to remember is to pray for peace
and justice, and to commit ourselves to their cause. Only a
world at peace, with justice for all, can avoid repeating the
mistakes and terrible crimes of the past.
As Bishop of Rome and Successor of the Apostle Peter, I
assure the Jewish people that the Catholic Church, motivated by
the Gospel law of truth and love and by no political
considerations, is deeply saddened by the hatred, acts of
persecution and displays of anti-Semitism directed against the
Jews by Christians at any time and in any place. The Church
rejects racism in any form as a denial of the image of the
Creator inherent in every human being (cf. Gen 1:26).
4. In this place of solemn remembrance, I fervently pray that
our sorrow for the tragedy which the Jewish people suffered in
the twentieth century will lead to a new relationship between
Christians and Jews. Let us build a new future in which there
will be no more anti-Jewish feeling among Christians or
anti-Christian feeling among Jews, but rather the mutual respect
required of those who adore the one Creator and Lord, and look
to Abraham as our common father in faith (cf. We Remember,
The world must heed the warning that comes to us from the
victims of the Holocaust and from the testimony of the
survivors. Here at Yad Vashem the memory lives on, and burns
itself onto our souls. It makes us cry out:
"I hear the whispering of many—terror on every side!
... But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, ‘You are my God’"