VATICAN CITY, NOV. 30, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI recalled the Jewish Holocaust as an “indelible disgrace in the history of humanity” and assured that God always hears the cry of the victims.
The Pope’s reference to the Holocaust, or Shoah, took place today when he commented on Psalm 136(137) at the weekly general audience. The audience attracted some 23,000 people in St. Peter’s Square, despite the cold and rain.
The Holy Father commented on the biblical composition which begins: “By the rivers of Babylon.” The psalm evokes the tragedy of the Jewish people, exiled in Babylon after the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 B.C.
“This profound invocation to the Lord to liberate his faithful from the slavery of Babylon also expresses sentiments of hope and expectation of the salvation with which we have begun the Advent journey,” the Pontiff said.
The background of the psalm is the land of exile, with its rivers and canals, which watered the plain of Babylon, headquarters of the deported Jews.
The Jews’ suffering is illustrated with the voices of the Babylonians asking them to sing to amuse them. And the psalm exclaims: “But how could we sing a song of the Lord in a foreign land?”
“It is as a symbolic anticipation of the extermination camps in which the Jewish people — in the century that just ended — were led to an infamous operation of death, which has remained as an indelible disgrace in the history of humanity,” said the German-born Pope.
The Holy Father noted, however, that God is the “ultimate arbiter of history” and, as such, “will be able to understand and accept, according to his justice, the cry of the victims.”