John Paul II, Pope (Wojtyla, Karol) 1920-2005
Città del Vaticano 25/04/1982On April 25 the Pope received in audience a Jewish delegation from the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Los Angeles, returning from the ceremonies which commemorated the fortieth anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in Poland. The following is the text of the Pontiff's address on that occasion:
I extend a warm greeting to all the members of the delegation organized by the Simon Wiesenthal Center of Los Angeles. I am very pleased to welcome you to the Vatican today and in this way to further the continuing religious dialogue between Judaism and the Catholic Church. Such meetings as ours deepen bonds of friend¬ship and trust and help us to appreciate more fully the richness of our common heritage as people who believe in the one Lord and God who has revealed himself to man.
As Christians and Jews, as children of Abraham, we are called to be a blessing for the world (cf. Gen. 12:2ff) especially by our witness in faith to God, the source of all life, and by our commitment to work together for the establishment of true peace and justice among all peoples and nations. Taking up the way of dialogue and mutual collaboration, we deepen bonds of friendship and trust among ourselves and offer to others a sign of hope for the future.
I am happy to know that your itinerary has included a visit to Poland to commemorate the Fortieth Anniver¬sary of the Warsaw ghetto uprising. Just recently, speaking of that horrible and tragic event of history, I said: "It was a desperate cry for the right to life, for liberty and for the salvation of human dignity... Payinghomage to the memory of these innocent victims, we pray: may the Eternal God accept this sacrifice for the well-being and the salvation of the world."
May God bless you and your families with harmony and peace. May he bless you with the fullness of Shalom.
Some days previously, on April 13 at his general audience, the Pope made allusion to his pilgrimage to Auschwitz in 1979 in the following terms:
During my pilgrimage to Auschwitz in June, 1979, standing before the stone engraved in Hebrew characters which is dedicated to the victims of this death camp, I spoke the following words:
`This inscription calls to mind that people whose sons and daughters were destined for total exter¬mination. This people traces its beginnings back to Abraham, the father of our faith (cf. Rom. 4:12) as expressed by Paul of Tarsus. This same people, which had received from God the commandment: "Thou shalt not kill" has felt in itself in a special way what it means to be killed. No one, passing in front of this stone, can remain indifferent to its message."'
Today I want to recall those words to mind again, remembering with all the Church in Poland and the whole Jewish people the terrible days of the uprising and of the destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto forty years ago (from April 19 to the middle of July, 1943). It was a desperate cry for the right to life, for liberty and for the salvation of human dignity...
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