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Pope at Holocaust Memorial: Never again, Lord, never again!

2014-05-26

Pope Francis visited the memorial dedicated to the six million Jews that lost their lives in the Holocaust.

At the entrance to the Yad Vashem, Jerusalem's Chief Rabbi, President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed the Pope.

The visit took place at the Hall of Remembrance, the main monument at the memorial.  Its floors are marked with the names of the 22 Nazi extermination and concentration camps.

It also houses an eternal flame, which Pope Francis rekindled. After doing so, a Memorial's representative explained the significance of the flame.

WOMAN
"We remember our nation's tenacious and sublime struggle to safeguard our Father's heritage and the human face of His children. We remember the Righteous among nations that risked their own lives to save Jews.”

Two children placed a wreath with white and yellow flowers to the stone that honors the victims. The Pope joined them and prayed before the monument.

When he finished, a rabbi recited a prayer in honor of the six million victims of the Holocaust.

One of the most emotional moments followed the prayer. The Pope met with six Holocaust survivors; some languished inside concentration camps, others remained hidden throughout the war. They all had lost family members during the genocide. As a sign of respect, the Pope kissed the hand of each survivor.

In his prepared speech, Pope Francis evoked the God's question to Adam.

POPE FRANCIS
"'Adam, where are you? Where are you, o man? What have you come to?' In this place, this memorial of the Shoah, we hear God’s question echo once more: 'Adam, where are you?' This question is charged with all the sorrow of a Father who has lost his child.”

The Pope also questioned what made humans believe that they could play God, and decide on the future of others.

POPE FRANCIS
"Who led you to presume that you are the master of good and evil? Who convinced you that you were God? Not only did you torture and kill your brothers and sisters, but you sacrificed them to yourself, because you made yourself a God.”

In his speech, which sounded more like a prayer, the Pope asked God so that something similar never happens again, and invoked His mercy.

POPE FRANCIS
"'Adam, where are you?' Here we are, Lord, shamed by what man, created in your own image and likeness, was capable of doing. Remember us in your mercy.”

The Pope left a personal message at the memorial's guestbook, and received a painting from the museum's collection, depicting a Jewish man praying.

The Pope's touching visit to the Yad Vashem Memorial ended with the performance of a poem, whose author was a young child silenced forever in Auschwitz.


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