Pope condemns rise of anti-Semitism


Pope Francis has condemned the “barbaric resurgence” of anti-Semitism around the world, linking it to the rise of populism.

Next week’s 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi Auschwitz death camp should serve as a reminder not to become indifferent, Francis said to a delegation from the human rights and research group, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre.

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media_cameraPope Francis stands at the window of the Apostolic palace overlooking St. Peter’s Square during the weekly Angelus prayer. Picture: AFP

“It is troubling to see, in many parts of the world, an increase in selfishness and indifference, lack of concern for others and the attitude that says life is good as long as it is good for me, and when things go wrong, anger and malice are unleashed,” Francis said.

“This creates a fertile ground for the forms of factionalism and populism we see around us, where hatred quickly springs up … where hatred is seminated,” he said.

A protest for solidarity against anti-Semitism at Cadman Plaza in Brooklyn, New York. Picture: AP Photo/Jessie Wardarskipacific.epeak.in/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/Pope-condemns-rise-of-anti-Semitism.webp”/>
media_cameraA protest for solidarity against anti-Semitism at Cadman Plaza in Brooklyn, New York. Picture: AP Photo/Jessie Wardarski

“Even recently, we have witnessed a barbaric resurgence of cases of anti- Semitism.” He did not specifically mention any countries or populist movements. Last month in eastern France, scores of Jewish graves were found desecrated in a cemetery, hours before politicians adopted a resolution equating anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism.

People participate in a Jewish solidarity march held in response to a recent rise in anti-Semitic crimes in New York. Picture: Jeenah Moon/Getty Images/AFPpacific.epeak.in/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/1579535491_426_Pope-condemns-rise-of-anti-Semitism.webp”/>
media_cameraPeople participate in a Jewish solidarity march held in response to a recent rise in anti-Semitic crimes in New York. Picture: Jeenah Moon/Getty Images/AFP

France has Europe’s biggest Jewish community – around 550,000 – and anti-Semitic attacks are common, with more than 500 alone in 2018.

“Once more, I firmly condemn every form of anti-Semitism,” Francis told the delegation.

A global survey by the US-based Anti-Defamation League in November found that anti-Semitic attitudes had increased in many places around the world and significantly in Eastern and Central Europe.

A file photograph taken on April 29, 1945, shows a young man checking the numbers tattooed on the arms of Jewish Polish prisoners coming from Auschwitz. Picture: AFPpacific.epeak.in/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/1579535492_800_Pope-condemns-rise-of-anti-Semitism.webp”/>
media_cameraA file photograph taken on April 29, 1945, shows a young man checking the numbers tattooed on the arms of Jewish Polish prisoners coming from Auschwitz. Picture: AFP

It also found that large percentages of people in Eastern and Western European countries think Jews talk too much about the Holocaust.

In the survey, about 78 per cent of respondents in Poland, where the Nazi extermination camp of Auschwitz was located during the German occupation in World War II, answered in the affirmative to the statement: “Jews still talk too much about what happened to them in the Holocaust.” The Nazis and their collaborators killed about six million Jews in their attempt to exterminate European Jewry.

Holocaust survivor Shmuel Blumenfeld, 94, shows the Auschwitz prison number 108006 on his arm. Picture: AFPpacific.epeak.in/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/1579535493_722_Pope-condemns-rise-of-anti-Semitism.jpeg”/>
media_cameraHolocaust survivor Shmuel Blumenfeld, 94, shows the Auschwitz prison number 108006 on his arm. Picture: AFP

Millions of others were also killed, including homosexuals, gypsies and political dissenters.

Francis, who visited Auschwitz in 2016, said remembering the Holocaust was vital to ensure that similar atrocities do not happen again.

“If we lose our memory, we destroy our future. 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. We need to do this, lest we become indifferent,” he said.

Originally published as Pope comes to defence of Jews



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