Today the Pope received in audience a delegation of the Jewish Community of Rome, on the occasion of the 70thanniversary of the deportation of Jews of Rome (October 16, 1943). Here is a ZENIT translation of the Pope’s written message he gave on the occasion of the anniversary.
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Distinguished Chief Rabbi,
Esteemed Members of the Jewish Community of Rome,
I wish to unite myself, with spiritual closeness and prayer, to the commemoration of the 70thanniversary of the deportation of the Jews of Rome. While going back in our memory to those tragic hours of October, 1943, it is our duty to keep present before our eyes the destiny of those deported, to perceive their fear, their sorrow, their despair, so as not to forget them, to keep them alive in our memory and in our prayer, together with their families, their relatives and friends, who have mourned their loss and remained dismayed in face of the barbarism to which a human being can sink.
To remember an event, however, does not simply mean to have a memory of it; it also means, above all, to make an effort to understand the message it represents for our today, so that the memory of the past can teach the present and become a light that illumines the way of the future. Blessed John Paul II wrote that the memory is called to play a necessary role “in the process of building a future in which the unspeakable iniquity of the Shoah is never possible again” (Introductory letter to the document: Commission for Religious Relations with Judaism, We Remember. A Reflection on the Shoa, March 16, 1998) and Benedict XVI said, at the Auschwitz concentration camp, that “the past is never only passed. This concerns us and indicates to us the ways we should not undertake and those we should undertake” (Address, May 28, 2006).
Hence, today’s commemoration could be described as a memoria futuri, an appeal to the new generations not to level their own existence, not to let themselves be drawn by ideologies, and never to justify the evil we meet, not to lower the guard against anti-Semitism and against racism, regardless of their provenance. I wish that, from initiatives such as this one, networks of friendship and fraternity between Jews and Catholics will be able to be intertwined and nourished in this our beloved city of Rome.
Through the mouth of the prophet Jeremiah the Lord says: “For I know the plans I have for you, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11). May the memory of the tragedies of the past become for all a commitment to adhere with all our strength to the future that God wishes to prepare and build for us and with us.
From the Vatican, October 11, 2013
FRANCIS[Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT]