Pope Francis on Monday condemned the “barbaric resurgence” of anti-Semitism around the world, linking it to the rise of populism.
Next week’s 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp should serve as a reminder not to become indifferent, Francis said to a delegation from the Simon Wiesenthal Center.
“It is troubling to see, in many parts of the world, an increase in selfishness and indifference, lack of concern for others and the attitude that says life is good as long as it is good for me, and when things go wrong, anger and malice are unleashed,” Francis said.
“This creates a fertile ground for the forms of factionalism and populism we see around us, where hatred quickly springs up … where hatred is seminated,” he said. “Even recently, we have witnessed a barbaric resurgence of cases of anti-Semitism.”
He did not specifically mention any countries or populist movements.
Last month in eastern France, scores of Jewish graves were found desecrated in a cemetery, hours before lawmakers adopted a resolution equating anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism.
France has Europe’s biggest Jewish community – around 550,000 – and anti-Semitic attacks are common, with more than 500 alone in 2018.
“Once more, I firmly condemn every form of anti-Semitism,” Francis told the delegation.
A global survey by the Anti-Defamation League in November found that anti-Semitic attitudes had increased in many places around the world and significantly in Eastern and Central Europe.
It also found that large percentages of people in Eastern and Western European countries think Jews talk too much about the Holocaust.
In the survey, about 78% of respondents in Poland, where the Nazi extermination camp of Auschwitz was located during the German occupation in World War II, answered in the affirmative to the statement: “Jews still talk too much about what happened to them in the Holocaust.”
The Nazis and their collaborators killed about six million Jews in their attempt to exterminate European Jewry. Millions of other civilians were also killed.
Francis, who visited Auschwitz in 2016, said remembering the Holocaust was vital to ensure that similar atrocities do not happen again.
“If we lose our memory, we destroy our future. May the anniversary of the unspeakable cruelty that humanity learned of seventy-five years ago serve as a summons to pause, to be still and to remember. We need to do this, lest we become indifferent,” he said.