Christianity, anti-Semitism are incompatible, says pope
Receives Roman Jews 70 years after deportation11 October, 17:23
(ANSA) - Vatican City, October 11 - Pope Francis on Friday made it clear once more that Christianity and anti-Semitism are incompatible.
The pope, who has reached out to different religions since his election in March, said anti-Semitism needs to be "banished from the heart and life of each man and each woman", receiving a delegation of Rome's Jewish community 70 years after the deportation of Roman Jews. "In a few days we will commemorate the 70th anniversary of the deportation of Rome's Jews", the pontiff told the delegation led by Rome's Chief Rabbi Riccardo Di Segni. "We will remember and pray for the many innocent victims of human cruelty, for their families".
On October 16, 1943, during the Nazi occupation of Rome, over 1,000 Roman Jews were seized and deported to the Auschwitz concentration camp. Subsequent roundups resulted in the deportation of another 800 Roman Jews. Only a small group survived.
The commemoration on October 16, Pope Francis also said, "will be an occasion to always keep vigil so forms of intolerance and anti-Semitism do not recommence, under any pretext, in Rome and in the rest of the world".
In an official message to the Italian Jewish community, Francis voiced his spiritual "closeness" with them.
"I would like to join, though spiritual closeness and prayer, the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the deportation of the Jews in Rome," he said. "Whilst returning with our memory to those tragic hours of October 1943, it is our duty to keep firmly in mind the destiny of those that were deported, to perceive their fear, their pain, their despair, so as not to forget them, to keep them alive, in our thoughts and in our prayers, together with their families, their relatives and their friends who have cried over their loss and have remained shocked by the barbarian levels to which a human being can stoop," Francis said.
The head of Italy's Jewish Communities, Renato Gattegna, replied: "It is indispensable that everything positive that has been reached through dialogue and friendship by the representatives of Judaism and Catholicism should be transmitted and widely diffused, not remaining limited only to those who have been protagonists of this season of dialogue aimed at mutual understanding".
Erich Priebke, sentenced to life for his part in a 1944 Rome SS massacre of 335 men and boys including 75 Jews, died at aged 100 Friday after serving 15 years, the last 10 under house arrest.