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January 20, 2020 11:38 am

Pope Francis Condemns ‘Barbaric Upsurge of Antisemitism’ in Meeting with US Jewish Advocacy Group

avatar by Algemeiner Staff

Pope Francis is seen during the weekly audience in Saint Peter’s Square, at the Vatican, Feb. 27, 2019. Photo: Reuters / Yara Nardi.

Pope Francis told a visiting US Jewish delegation on Monday of his concerns about rising antisemitism and the importance of educating against prejudice.

Condemning what he called the “barbaric upsurge of antisemitism,” the head of the Catholic Church assured the visitors from the Simon Wiesenthal Center — a Jewish human rights NGO based in Los Angeles — of his commitment to combating bigotry and discrimination against the Jewish people.

“I never tire of strongly condemning antisemitism in all its forms,” the pope said.

According to an account of the meeting from Vatican Radio, the pope also addressed the upcoming 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz extermination camp, urging silent commemoration of the atrocities committed by the Nazis there.

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The pope explained that he had stood in silent reflection when he visited Auschwitz in June 2016.

Silent reflection “allows us to hear the cry of humanity,” Pope Francis said, in order to “preserve memory.

The pope added: “Without memory, we will destroy the future.”

Endorsing initiatives based upon “integration, research and understanding of the other,” Pope Francis pointed to the “Nostra Aetate” declaration of 1965 as a model for reconciliation.

The declaration — a milestone in relations between the Catholic Church and the Jewish faith — had highlighted the “rich spiritual heritage common to Jews and Christians,” the Pope said.

A similar approach was needed today to “sweep away hatred,” the pope told his guests.

“We must help those who are victims of intolerance and discrimination,” he concluded.

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