March 28, 2011.
Benedict XVI visited the Roman site Fosse Ardeatine, where Nazi soldiers executed 335 civilians in 1944. Among those killed, 75 were Jewish.
Rome's chief rabbi, Riccardo Di Segni, joined the pope in the act of remembering the victims.
Hitler ordered that ten Italians be killed for every German that died from a bomb set off by Italian partisans.
Benedict XVI described the event as a “grave offense against God.”Benedict XVI“What occurred here on March 24, 1944 was a grave offense against God because it was deliberate violence committed by man against man.”
The pope laid flowers at the monument that remembers the massacre and recited words written by one of the prisoners.Benedict XVI“'I believe in God and in Italy'. This expression made an impression on me, because this year we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the unity of Italy, but mostly because it affirms the primacy of the faith, from which confidence and hope originates for Italy and its future.”
The Pope explained that this statement shows the “human spirit is always free, even in the harshest conditions.”
At Fosse Ardeatine, Jews and Christians pray together for the victims of Nazi barbarism. In an act of respect, Benedict XVI and Rome's chief rabbi prayed together at their graves. Benedict XVI“In this place is a painful memory of the most horrendous evil, the real answer to which is to hold hands as brothers and say: Our Father, we believe in You and with the power of your love we want to walk together, in peace for Rome, for Italy, for Europe and the entire world.”
The pope signed the guestbook with a psalm in Latin: “I will fear no evil, for You are with me.”
Benedict XVI is the third pope to visit Fosse Ardeatine. Paul VI paid his respects in 1965 as well as John Paul II in 1982.