Benedict XVI Recalls "Dark" Hour of Nazi Era

Vatican Spokesman Reflects on Light of Martyrs

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VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 25, 2011 ( Benedict XVI’s trip to his native Germany has helped to recall the lessons that must be drawn from the tragedy caused by Nazism, said the Vatican spokesman.

On the most recent edition of Vatican Television Center’s weekly program «Octava Dies,» Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, reflected on the Pope’s four-day state visit to his homeland.

«One cannot pass through Berlin without feeling the weight of the darkest page in the history of Germany and Europe in the last century: the madness for power and murder that marked the Nazi era,» the spokesman noted.

The priest said that the memory of the Nazis was «powerfully recalled» by the Holy Father on Thursday in Berlin when he referred to them as a «band of thieves.»

Another important moment of the papal visit took place when he received a Jewish delegation, which included witnesses and victims of the Holocaust.

«But the light of those martyred by Nazism shines through the darkness of those times and continues to inspire the building of the future,» asserted the spokesman.

Father Lombardi noted that the president of Germany, Christian Wulff, recalled three notable Catholic victims: Blessed Bernhard Lichtenberg, the pastor of the Catholic Cathedral of Berlin; Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the great Protestant theologian; and St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (1891-1942), Edith Stein, a Jew who converted to Catholicism and became a Carmelite nun, and was later killed at Auschwitz.

«The ecumenism of the martyrs is testimony from which the ecumenical movement of today can find great depth and draw enthusiasm,» added Father Lombardi. «Sacrificing one’s life as a witness to God and to Jesus Christ: could there be a more solid common ground, a firmer basis for continuing the journey in the hope of a union that is not just behind us, but is also ahead of us?»

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