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Pope Attacks Antisemitism: Indifference is ‘Dangerously Contagious Virus’ that Is the Root of Hatred

‘To Prepare a Truly Human Future,’ Francis Tells Anti-Semitism Conference, ‘Rejecting Evil Is Not Enough’

The root of hatred, Pope Francis says, is the ‘dangerously contagious virus’ of indifference.
Pope Francis stressed this during his encounter with participants in the International Conference on the responsibility of states, institutions and individuals in the fight against anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic hate crimes this morning in the Vatican.
The conference, held today in Rome at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, was organized in cooperation with OSCE, with the support of the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and in collaboration with the Union of Italian Jewish Communities and the Foundation Contemporary Jewish Documentation Center.

During his talk, the Pope stressed the word ‘responsibility,’ saying we are responsible when we are able to respond. He explained this refers to not only analyzing the causes of violence and refuting their perverse reasoning, but of being actively prepared to respond to them.

“Thus, the enemy against which we fight is not only hatred in all of its forms, but even more fundamentally, indifference; for it is indifference that paralyzes and impedes us from doing what is right even when we know that it is right.”

Contagious Virus

“I do not grow tired of repeating that indifference is a virus that is dangerously contagious in our time,” the Pope said, noting that nowadays we are increasingly connected with others, but are increasingly less attentive to them.

In the Bible we can also demonstrate this, the Pontiff said, recalling when the Creator asks Cain: ‘Where is your brother?’ But Cain, who just killed his brother, Francis observed, does not reply to the question and respond where.

Instead, Francis said, he protests that he is autonomous: ‘Am I my brother’s keeper?’ (v. 9).

His brother does not interest him: here is the root of perversity, the root of death that produces desperation and silence.

The Holy Father went on to recall ‘the roar of the deafening silence’ he said, he ‘sensed’ two years ago in Auschwitz-Birkenau, calling it “a disturbing silence that leaves space only for tears, for prayer and for the begging of forgiveness.”

“We have just celebrated International Holocaust Remembrance Day. In order to recover our humanity, to recover our human understanding of reality and to overcome so many deplorable forms of apathy towards our neighbour, we need this memory, this capacity to involve ourselves together in remembering. Memory is the key to accessing the future, and it is our responsibility to hand it on in a dignified way to young generations.”

The Holy Father went on to pose the question: “Faced with the virus of indifference, the root of hatred, what vaccine can we administer?”

Here, he noted, the Book of Deuteronomy comes to our aid. After a long journey through the desert, Moses addressed a basic counsel to the Chosen People: “Remember your whole journey” (Deut 8:2), that is to say, do not let the past die.

Citing a document of Saint John Paul II called ‘We Remember: a Reflection on the Shoah’ of the Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, the Polish Pope expressed his fervent hope that it “would enable memory to play its necessary part in the process of shaping a future in which the unspeakable iniquity of the Shoah will never again be possible” (Letter, 12 March 1998). The text, Francis said, speaks of this memory, which we Christians are called to safeguard, together with our elder Jewish brothers, which helps us go forward in the future together.

“To build our history, which will either be together or will not be at all, we need a common memory, living and faithful, that should not remain imprisoned in resentment but, though riven by the night of pain, should open up to the hope of a new dawn. The Church desires to extend her hand. She wishes to remember and to walk together.”

Francis then turned to Nostra Aetate, reminding that in this important document, “the Church, mindful of the patrimony she shares with the Jews and moved not by political reasons but by the Gospel’s spiritual love, decries hatred, persecutions, displays of anti-Semitism, directed against Jews at any time and by anyone” (Nostra Aetate, 4).

Pope Francis then invited all people to help one another in growing a culture of responsibility, of memory and of closeness, and to establish an alliance against indifference, against every form of indifference.

“We need urgently to educate young generations to become actively involved in the struggle against hatred and discrimination, but also in the overcoming of conflicting positions in the past, and never to grow tired of seeking the other.”

“To prepare a truly human future, rejecting evil is not enough,” the Pope said, noting: “we need to build the common good together.”

Pope Francis concluded thanking them  for their commitment in all of these matters, saying , “May the Lord of peace accompany you and bless every one of your good intentions.”

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On ZENIT’s Web page:

Full Text: https://zenit.org/articles/popes-address-to-international-conference-on-responsibility-of-all-in-fight-against-anti-semitism/

About Deborah Castellano Lubov

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