Pope Francis leads a Mass marking the World Day of Peace in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican, January 1, 2020.(Photo: Reuters/Remo Casilli)

Pope Francis has spoken of the “dignity due to every person” as he condemned antisemitism in all its forms ahead of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. 

He made the comments while this week welcoming a delegation to the Vatican from the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, a global human rights and Holocaust research organisation. 

The Pope praised the centre for its work seeking “to combat all forms of antisemitism, racism and hatred towards minorities”.

He spoke of his “shared desire” to make the world a better place in relation to human dignity. 

“This dignity is due to every person in equal measure, regardless of his or her ethnic origin, religion or social status”, he said.

“It is essential to teach tolerance, mutual understanding and freedom of religion, and the promotion of peace within society.” 

January 27 marks the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, where nearly a million Jews were murdered. 

The Pope said the anniversary should be a cause for reflection not only in relation to the “unspeakable cruelty” of humanity but personal relationships today, as he warned against speaking “unhelpful words” and wasting time in “arguing, shouting insults, without a real concern for what we say”.

“Silence, on the other hand, helps to keep memory alive. If we lose our memory, we destroy our future,” he continued. 

“May the anniversary of the unspeakable cruelty that humanity learned of seventy-five years ago serve as a summons to pause, to be still and to remember,” he said. “We need to do this, lest we become indifferent.” 

 

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