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News Flash: Vatican Releases
Historic Shoah Document

As we went to press, the Vatican
released a document entitled 'We
Remember: A Reflection on the
Shoah.' Here are excerpts from
Pope John Paul's introductory letter
and the official document, dated
March 16, 1998.

[ Pope John Paul II ]
Pope John Paul II



...It is my fervent hope that the document, WE REMEMBER: A REFLECTION ON THE SHOAH, which the Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews has prepared under your direction, will indeed help to heal the wounds of past misunderstandings and injustices. May it enable memory to play its part in the process of shaping a future in which the unspeakable iniquity of the Shoah will never again be possible....

Pope John Paul II



...While bearing their unique witness to the Holy One of Israel and to the Torah, the Jewish people have suffered much at different times and in many places. But the Shoah was certainly the worst suffering of all. The inhumanity with which the Jews were persecuted and massacred during this century is beyond the capacity of words to convey. All this was done to them for the sole reason that they were Jews....

In the lands where the Nazis undertook mass deportations, the brutality which surrounded these forced movements of helpless people should have led us to suspect the worst. Did Christians give every possible assistance to those being persecuted, and in particular to the persecuted Jews?

Many did, but others did not. Those who did help to save Jewish lives as much as was in their power, even to the point of placing their own lives in danger, must not be forgotten. During and after the war, Jewish communities and Jewish leaders expressed their thanks for all that had been done for them, including what Pope Pius XII did personally or through his representatives to save hundreds of thousands of Jewish lives. Many Catholic bishops, priests, religious and laity have been honored for this reason by the State of Israel....

At the end of this millennium, the Catholic Church desires to express her deep sorrow for the failures of her sons and daughters in every age. This is an act of repentance (teshuva), since, as members of the Church, we are linked to the sins as well as the merits of all her children. The Church approaches with deep respect and great compassion the experience of extermination, the Shoah, suffered by the Jewish people during World War II. It is not a matter of mere words, but indeed of binding commitment:

We would risk causing the victims of the most atrocious deaths to die again if we do not have an ardent desire for justice, if we do not commit ourselves to insure that evil does not prevail over good as it did for millions of children of the Jewish people. Humanity cannot permit all that to happen again.

We pray that our sorrow for the tragedy which the Jewish people has suffered in our century will lead to a new relationship with the Jewish people. We wish to turn awareness of past sins into a firm resolve to build a new future in which there will be no more anti-Judaism among Christians or anti-Christian sentiment among Jews, but rather a shared mutual respect, as befits those who adore the one Creator and Lord and have a common father in faith, Abraham. Finally, we invite all men and women of goodwill to reflect deeply on the significance of the Shoah. The victims from their graves, and the survivors through the vivid testimony of what they have suffered, have become a loud voice calling the attention of all of humanity. To remember this terrible experience is to become fully conscious of the salutary waning it entails: the spoiled seeds of anti-Judaism and antisemitism must never again be allowed to take root in any human heart.

Edward Idris Cardinal Cassidy
The Most Rev. Pierre Duprey
The Rev. Remi Hoeckman, O.P.


[ AETI 1998 Table of Contents ]


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