Vatican City, 11 October 2013 (VIS) – We publish below the message presented to the Riccardo Di Segni, chief rabbi of the Jewish community of Rome, to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the deportation of Roman Jews on 16 October 1943.
“I wish to join with you, in spiritual closeness and prayer, in the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the deportation of the Jews of Rome. While we return in memory to the those tragic hours of October 1943, it is our duty to keep before our eyes the destiny of those deportees, to imagine their fear, their pain, their desperation, so as not to forget them, to keep them alive in our memory and in our prayer, along with their families, their relatives and friends who mourned their loss and who remain disheartened by the depths of barbarity to which humankind can sink”.
However, to conserve the memory of an event “does not simply mean having a recollection; it also and most importantly means making the effort to understand what message this may represent for our times, so that the memory of the past may offer a lesson for the present day and become a light to illuminate our future path. Blessed John Paul II wrote that memory is called upon to carry out 'a necessary role in in the process of shaping a future in which the unspeakable iniquity of the Shoah will never again be possible', and at Auschwitz Benedict XVI commented, 'the past is never simply the past. It always has something to say to us; it tells us the paths to take and the paths not to take'.”
Therefore, today's commemoration “could be defined as a 'memoria futuri', a call to the new generations not to allow themselves to merely fall into line, not to let themselves be caught up by ideologies, never to justify the evil they encounter, and not to lower their guard against anti-Semitism and against racism, regardless of where they are from. I hope that initiatives like this one may promote the interweaving and growth of networks of friendship and brotherhood between Jews and Catholics in this, our beloved city of Rome”.
The Pope quoted the prophet Jeremiah, according to whom the Lord said, “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”, and added, “The memory of past tragedies becomes a commitment for all of us to adhere with all our strength to the future that God wishes to prepare and build for and with us. Shalom”.