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Pope Francis: to rabbis of the Caucasus, “the Holocaust must be commemorated”, “religious freedom is a bulwark against the claims of totalitarianism”

“The Holocaust must be commemorated so that there will be a living memory of the past”. Pope Francis said this as he received in audience today, for the first time, a delegation of rabbis from the World Congress of Mountain Jews from the Caucasus. “Without a living memory, there will be no future, for if the darkest pages of history do not teach us to avoid the same errors, human dignity will remain a dead letter”, Pope Francis warned, speaking about the Shoah, before going on to recall “another dramatic seventy-fifth anniversary” – the raid on the Roman ghetto which was commemorated on 16 October last. “Just a few days from now, 9 November will mark the eightieth anniversary of the Kristallnacht, when many Jewish places of worship were destroyed, not least with the intent of uprooting from the hearts of individuals and a people that which is absolutely inviolable: the presence of the Creator”, the Pope recalled. “The attempt to replace the God of goodness with the idolatry of power and the ideology of hatred ended in the folly of exterminating creatures”, he remarked. “Consequently, religious freedom is a supreme good to be safeguarded, a fundamental human right and a bulwark against the claims of totalitarianism”. “I met with a Jewish community in Lithuania on 23 September last”, Pope Francis began. “It was a day devoted to the commemoration of the Shoah, seventy-five years after the destruction of the Vilnius ghetto and the murder of thousands of Jews. I prayed before the monument to the victims of the Holocaust and I asked the Most High to comfort his people”.

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