Pope Francis warned against historic revisionism and any rebirth of anti-Semitism that fueled the Holocaust as he marked the annual remembrance Sunday for Lithuania’s centuries-old Jewish community that was nearly wiped out during World War II.
Francis began his second day in the Baltics in Lithuania’s second city, Kaunas, where an estimated 3,000 Jews survived out of a community of 37,000 during the 1941-1944 Nazi occupation. He ended it back in the capital, Vilnius, to pay his respects to Lithuanians who were deported to Siberian gulags or were tortured and killed at home during five decades of Soviet occupation.
Francis honored freedom fighters at the former KGB headquarters where anti-Soviet partisans were detained and executed, solemnly touring the underground chambers that have now been turned into a haunting museum of occupation atrocities.
“In this place of remembrance, Lord, we pray that your cry may keep us alert,” he said afterward. “That your cry, Lord, may free us from the spiritual sickness that remains a constant temptation for us as a people: forgetfulness of the experiences and sufferings of those who have gone before us.”…
He prayed for the gift of discernment “to detect in time any new seeds of that pernicious attitude, any whiff of it that can taint the heart of generations that did not experience those times and can sometimes be taken in by such siren songs.”
His warning came as far-right, xenophobic and neo-fascist political movements are making gains across Europe, including in Lithuania, and closer to his home in Italy.