This morning Pope Francis received a delegation from the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, an international Jewish organisation for the defence of human rights, and praised its work in fighting “every form of racism, intolerance and anti-Semitism, preserving the memory of the Shoah and promoting mutual understanding through education and social action”.
The encounter with the Simon Wiesenthal Centre had been arranged with Pope Benedict XVI and the Holy Father emphasised that the Pope emeritus is always in “our affectionate thoughts and prayers”.
“I have repeated many times, in recent weeks, the Church's condemnation of any form of anti-Semitism. Today I would like to underline that the problem of intolerance must be faced in its entirety: when any minority is persecuted and marginalised on account of its religious beliefs or ethnic origin, the good of society as a whole is placed in danger, and we must all consider ourselves affected. I think with particular sadness of the suffering, marginalisation and real persecution experienced by many Christians in various countries throughout the world. Let us unite our strengths to promote a culture of encounter, of mutual respect, understanding and forgiveness”.
Education is key to achieving this aim, but it must take the form “not only of the transmission of knowledge, but also the passing down of lived experience, that presupposes the establishment of a communion of life, of an 'alliance' with the young generations, always open to the truth. Indeed, we must be able to transmit to them not only knowledge about Jewish-Catholic dialogue, about the difficulties overcome and the progress made in recent decades; we must, above all, be able to transmit to them our passion for encounter and knowledge of the other, promoting the active and responsible involvement of young people. In this, shared commitment to the service of society and to its weakest members takes on a role of great importance”.
The Holy Father concluded by encouraging the members of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre to continue their work of “transmitting to the young the values of common efforts to refuse walls and to build bridges between our cultures and traditions of faith. Go ahead, with trust, courage and hope. Shalom!”