Pope joins Slovakian Jews to remember Holocaust

Pope Francis and Richard Duda, president of the Federation of Jewish Communities in Slovakia, light candles during a meeting with the Jewish community in Bratislava. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

The violence of the Holocaust and the atrocities committed against the Jewish people are tantamount to blasphemy, Pope Francis said during his visit to Slovakia. Source: Catholic News Service.

“The divine name, the Lord himself, is blasphemed whenever the unique and distinctive dignity of the human person, created in his image, is violated,” the Pope said at a meeting with members of Slovakia’s Jewish community.

The meeting took place in Rybné námestie Square, site of a memorial tribute to the 105,000 Slovak Jews who were killed in the Holocaust.

The memorial includes a black wall with an etching of the Neolog synagogue that once stood in the square before it was destroyed by communist authorities in 1969 to make way for a bridge.

A bronze abstract sculpture topped with the Star of David with the word “Remember,” inscribed in Hebrew and Slovak, stands at the centre of the square.

During the meeting, Pope Francis heard several testimonies, including from Holocaust survivor Tomáš Lang, who recalled the anti-Jewish persecution in his country and the death of his parents.

He also noted that one of the few to openly speak out against anti-Semitism in Slovakia was the late Archbishop Giuseppe Burzio, who served as chargé d’affaires at the apostolic nunciature.

In his address, Pope Francis recognised the importance of the synagogue that once stood alongside the Cathedral of St Martin.

The presence of both spiritual edifices, he said, was “an expression of the peaceful coexistence of the two communities, an unusual and evocative symbol, and a striking sign of unity in the name of the God of our fathers”.

Pope Francis also met with Slovakian civic leaders yesterday. His four day trip to Hungary and Slovakia ends tomorrow.

FULL STORY

Horrors of Holocaust must not be forgotten, pope tells Slovak Jews (By Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service)

RELATED COVERAGE

Pope Francis to Slovakia’s Jewish community: ‘Your sufferings are our sufferings’ (Catholic News Agency)

Pope encourages Slovakia to fraternity, hospitality, solidarity (Vatican News)

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