The Coordination Forum for Countering Antisemitism

Snuff out ‘any whiff’ of resurgent antisemitism, pope says

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Pope Francis said on Sunday that society should be vigilant for “any whiff” of resurgent antisemitism, calling for new generations to be taught the horrors of the Holocaust.

He made his appeal in Kaunas, Lithuania’s second city, on the 75th anniversary of the wartime liquidation of the ghetto in the capital Vilnius. Two years of Nazi oppression in which tens of thousands of Jews were killed or deported culminated on Sept. 23-24, 1943.

“The Jewish people suffered insults and cruel punishments,” Francis told a crowd of about 100,000 at an open-air Mass.

“Let us … ask the Lord to give us the gift of discernment to detect in time any seed of that pernicious attitude, any whiff of it that can taint the heart of generations that did not experience those times,” he said.

In the homily of the Mass, Francis referred to those who collaborated with the Nazis in World War Two or with Communist authorities in the period between 1944 and 1991 when Lithuania was part of the Soviet Union.

“Earlier generations still bear the scars of the period of the occupation, anguish at those who were deported, uncertainty about those who never returned, shame for those who were informers and traitors,” he said.

On Sunday afternoon the pope was visiting the Museum of Occupations and Fights for Freedom, a former Soviet KGB prison in Vilnius where hundreds were murdered and thousands, including many priests, shipped off to Siberia.