Anti-Semitism “isn’t human or Christian”, the Pope has insisted, as he denounced the rise in anti-Jewish hate.
Driving the news
“The Jewish people have suffered so much in history. They were thrown out, persecuted”, Francis told pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square Wednesday for the General Audience, departing from his prepared remarks.
In the past century”, the Pope continued, “we saw so many, so many brutalities done to the Jewish people and we were all convinced that this was over.
“However, today the rebirth begins of the habit of persecuting the Jews.
“Brothers and sisters, this isn’t human or Christian. The Jews are our brothers! And they must not be persecuted. Understood?”, Francis pleaded.
The Pope’s condemnation of anti-Semitism came as countries in Europe have been experiencing a wave of anti-Jewish hate.
Last weekend, 80 Jewish graves were desecrated in the cemetery of Randers, in Denmark, coinciding with the 81st anniversary of Kristallnacht, the ‘Night of the Broken Glass’ of 9-10 November 1938 in which 1,400 Jewish synagogues, cemeteries, shops and homes were destroyed across Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia.
Dozens more anti-Semitic acts were carried out in the Danish towns of Vallensbæk, Silkeborg, Aarhus, Aalborg, and Copenhagen, likely by the Nordic Resistance Movement (NRM), according to local media reports.
In Sweden, too, Jews were the targets of attacks, with that country’s Jewish Youth Association (JUS) denouncing that yellow Stars of David had appeared on Jewish institutions.
Why it matters
Closer to home for the Pope, in Italy a Jewish 89-year-old life senator and Holocaust survivor has recently been the target of death threats.
Liliana Segre has been the target of anti-Semitic hate that has intensified with her support for a parliamentary investigation into racism that received the go-ahead last week, despite a boycott from right-wing parties.
Cardinal Miguel Ayuso, President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, said last week that he was “disgusted” by the attacks on Segre.
“My responsibility is to promote inter-religious dialogue and for this I call on all people to work together”, Ayuso pleaded.