Pope Benedict XVI’s Angelus Address this Sunday was an intense appeal against all forms of persecution and systematic slaughter past and present.

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Following the Marian Prayer at Midday Pope Benedict recalled the 70th anniversary of Kristallnacht, or Night of Broken Glass, when Nazi-fuelled riots led to the destruction of synagogues, homes and shops effectively launching the Nazi campaign to systematically destroy Europe’s Jewish community.

The Pope told a crowded St Peter’s square that still today he feels the pain of that great tragedy and urged that the memory of such horrors serve to ensure they never happen again by encouraging people to work against all forms of discrimination and anti-Semitism. He also invited Christians worldwide to pray for the victims of the Shoah and join him in a show of deep solidarity with the Jewish world.

“Shops, offices, houses and synagogues were attacked and destroyed and many people were killed, thus beginning that violent and systematic persecution of the German Jews which concluded with the Shoah. Even today I still suffer for what happened in those tragic circumstances, the memory of which must serve to ensure that such horrors never happen again and that, at all levels, we undertake to oppose all forms of anti-Semitism and discrimination, educating, especially the young generations, in respect and mutual acceptance. Moreover, I invite people to pray for the victims of that time and to join me in expressing profound solidarity with the Jewish world”.

The Holy Father then went on to launch an appeal for peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo: “Unsettling news continues to arrive from the region of North Kivu”, he said.

“Bloody armed clashes and systematic atrocities have reaped and are continuing to reap numerous victims among innocent civilians. Destruction, sacking and violence of all kinds have forced further tens of thousands of people to abandon what little they had to survive. It is calculated that the refugees currently number more than one and a half million. I wish to express my special closeness to each and every one of them; at the same time I encourage and bless those who are striving to alleviate their sufferings, among whom I would particularly like to mention the pastoral workers of the local Church. To families deprived of their loved ones I send my condolences and assurances of my prayers. Finally, I renew my fervent appeal for everyone to collaborate in restoring peace to that long-martyred land, while respecting legality and, above all, the dignity of each individual”.

Benedict XVI then went on to refer to today’s celebration in Italy of Thanksgiving Day, which has as its theme this year: “I was hungry and you gave me food”.

“I unite my voice”, he said, “to that of Italian bishops who, on the basis of these words of Jesus, draw attention to the serious and complex problem of hunger, made even more dramatic by price increases in certain basic foodstuffs. The Church, while reiterating the fundamental ethical principle of the universal destination of goods, puts this into practice following the Lord Jesus’ example, with many charitable initiatives. I pray for the rural world, especially for smallholders in developing countries. I encourage and bless those who undertake to unsure that no-one lacks healthy and adequate nourishment: those who help the poor help Christ Himself”.
ANG/JEWS PEACE FOOD/… VIS 081110 (480)