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교황, 예루살렘의 홀로커스트기념관에서 유대인 박해 참회

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2000-03-29 00:20
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At Jerusalem's Holocaust memorial, the Pope regrets persecution
of Jews
ENI-00-0108

By Ross Dunn
Jerusalem, 23 March (ENI)--Pope John Paul II today spoke out in
remembrance of the six million Jews who died in the Holocaust,
praying that a new relationship between Christians and Jews would
be born from "sorrow over this tragedy".

After praying at Jerusalem's Yad Vashem, the principal Israeli
monument to those who perished in the Holocaust, the Pope asked
that there would be no more hatred but only respect between the
two faiths.

"There are no words strong enough to deplore the terrible
tragedy of the Shoah [the Hebrew word for the Holocaust]," said
the pontiff in what was obviously a highly emotional moment. To
reinforce its importance to him, he spoke of his childhood in
Poland and of Jewish friends lost in the Holocaust. "My own
personal memories are of all that happened when the Nazis
occupied Poland during the war. I remember Jewish friends and
neighbours, some of whom
perished, while others survived."

He was greeted by six Jewish Holocaust survivors, including a
childhood friend. The Pope also met 30 Jews living in Israel,
who, like him, were originally from Wadowice, Poland.

The Pope was accompanied by Israel's prime minister, Ehud Barak,
whose mother's parents were killed in a Nazi death camp in
Poland.

"I have come to Yad Vashem to pay homage to the millions of
Jewish people, who, stripped of everything, especially of their
human dignity, were murdered in the Holocaust," the pontiff said.
"More than half a century has passed, but the memories remain."

"How can we fail to heed their cry?" he said of the Holocaust's
millions of victims. "No one can forget or ignore what happened.
No one can diminish its scale. We wish to remember. But we wish
to remember for a purpose, namely to ensure that never again will
evil prevail, as it did for the millions of innocent victims of
Nazism."

Asking how men could have such utter contempt for their fellow
human beings, the Pope said the reason was that men "had reached
the point of contempt for God * Only a godless ideology could
plan and carry out the extermination of a whole people."

But the Pope said the honour given by the State of Israel at Yad
Vashem to those "just Gentiles" who had acted heroically to save
Jews, sometimes giving up their own lives, was a sign of great
hope. It was, he said, "a recognition that not even in the
darkest hour is every light extinguished".

The Book of Psalms, and the whole Bible, though commenting on
the human capacity for evil, also proclaimed that "evil will not
have the last word", he added.

On the more general issue of the relationship between Judaism
and Christianity, Pope John Paul said that Jews and Christians
shared an immense "spiritual patrimony" from God's
self-revelation.

"Our religious teachings and our spiritual experience demand
that we overcome evil with good," he said.

The pontiff said that both Jews and Christians remembered the
Holocaust not with any desire for vengeance or hatred, but to
commit themselves to the cause of peace and justice and to avoid
repeating the terrible mistakes and crimes of the past.

"As Bishop of Rome and successor of the Apostle Peter, I assure
the Jewish people that the Catholic Church, motivated by the
Gospel law of truth and love and by no political considerations,
is deeply saddened by the hatred, acts of persecution and
displays of anti-Semitism directed against the Jews by Christians
at any time and in any place," he said.

"The church rejects racism in any form as a denial of the image
of the Creator inherent in every human being.

"In this place of solemn remembrance, I fervently pray that our
sorrow for the tragedy which the Jewish people suffered in the
20th century will lead to a new relationship between Christians
and Jews. Let us build a new future in which there will be no
more anti-Jewish feeling among Christians or anti-Christian
feeling among Jews, but rather the mutual respect required of
those who adore the one Creator and Lord, and look to Abraham as
our common father in faith."

While much of today's speech is likely to be well received here
and abroad, it is unlikely to satisfy the many Jews who want a
specific apology by the Catholic Church for failing to save more
Jewish lives and, in particular, for the silence of Pope Pius XII
during the Holocaust itself. For many Jews his silence amounted
to complicity with the genocide. However, senior Vatican
officials insist that Pius XII did his best to help the Jews
behind the scenes, and that if the church had spoken out
strongly, more lives might have been put in danger.

Shevach Weiss, a Holocaust survivor and president of the Yad
Vashem Council, told ENI that the papal visit was about more than
apologies. "The fact that he is here is the most important issue
and event. We don't need apologetic declarations," he said. "We
lost six million brothers and sisters, parents, grandparents,
grandmothers, grandfathers. The importance is vis-a-vis the
Christian people, especially more than a billion Catholics around
the world."

As a small boy during the Holocaust, Weiss was hidden by a
Christian family, in the region of Poland where John Paul grew
up. He told ENI the Pope had done more than any other Catholic
pontiff to improve Christian-Jewish relations. This could, he
said, be at least partly explained by the Pope's Polish roots.
After the war, John Paul had helped some Jewish Holocaust
survivors to be reunited with their families, Weiss said.