(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Friday met with members of Rome’s Jewish community to mark the 70th anniversary of the deportation of the city’s Jewish population during the Nazi occupation. Among those present was the Chief Rabbi of Rome, Dr. Riccardo Di Segni, the President of the Jewish Community of Rome , Dr. Riccardo Pacifici, and the President of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities , Dr. Renzo Gattegna.
Pope Francis began by expressing his closeness to Rome’s Jewish community, which is the oldest in Western Europe, having a continued presence in the city of over two thousand years.
“For many centuries…the Jewish community and the Church of Rome have lived in our city, with a history - as we well know - which was often transversed by misunderstandings and even true grievances,” Pope Francis said. “However, it is a story, that with the help of God, has for many decades experienced the development of friendly and fraternal relations.”
The Pope then turned to the occasion of the visit. The deportation of over one thousand Roman Jews on October 16, 1943, during the Nazi occupation of Rome. They were sent to Auschwitz, and only 16 ever returned to the homes.
“We will remember in a few days the 70th anniversary of the deportation of the Jews of Rome. We will remember and pray for the many innocent victims of human barbarity , for their families,” said Pope Francis.
“It will also be an opportunity to keep vigilant so that, under any pretext, any forms of intolerance and anti-Semitism in Rome and the rest of the world not come back to life,” the Holy Father said.
“I've said it other times and I would like to repeat it now: It’s a contradiction that a Christian is anti-Semitic: His roots are Jewish,” said the Pope. “A Christian cannot be anti-Semitic ! Let Anti-Semitism be banished from the heart and life of every man and every woman!”
Related link: Pope Francis: Let anti-Semitism be banished from every heart ~ Vatican Radio