Pope Francis with Holocaust survivors: All faiths must be united against antisemitism

 | 
13/09/2021
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Pope Francis arrived in Bratislava's historic Rybné námestie square to meet with members of the local Jewish community. 

The square was the site of the Bratislava synagogue, which was destroyed in 1965 under Slovakia's communist regime. 

Today, it is home to a Holocaust memorial, commemorating the 105,000 Slovak Jews during World War II. 

The Pope was received by the Chairman of the Union of the Central Union of Jewish Communities in Slovakia, Richard Duda, who noted his personal experience of Jewish-Christian relations.

RICHARD DUDA
Chairman, Central Union of Jewish Communities in Slovakia
“In Slovakia we say, “love moves mountains.” With my beloved wife, we have been an inseparable Judeo-Christian couple for more than three decades. Our relationship is a small world governed by mutual esteem, respect, and understanding. I am convinced that harmonious family relationships are capable of ensuring stability in societies throughout the world.”

The Pope then heard testimonies of a holocaust survivor from Slovakia, and a religious sister whose community in Bratislava sheltered Jews during World War II. 

He went on to condemn the historic use of God's name to oppress others. 

POPE FRANCIS
'Here, reflecting on the history of the Jewish people marked by this tragic affront, we admit with shame how often God's ineffable Name has been used for unspeakable acts of inhumanity. How many oppressors have said: “God is with us,” yet it was they, who were not with God!'

The Pope then called on people of all faiths to reject antisemitism in all forms. 

POPE FRANCIS
'I repeat: let us unite in condemning all violence and every form of antisemitism, and in working to ensure that God’s image, present in the humanity He created, will never be profaned.'

In remembrance of the Slovak Jews who perished in the Holocaust, a rabbi prayed the Jewish prayer of the dead in Hebrew often sung at funerals. 

Pope Francis presented the Chairman with a ceramic plate bearing an image of St. Peter, and gave his wife a rosary.  

The Pope then greeted several other Holocaust survivors before returning to the Apostolic Nunciature in Bratislava. 

JM

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