Excerpts of Pope's Holocaust Speech
The Associated Press
Mar. 23, 2000
Excerpts from Pope John Paul II's and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak's speeches at Israel's Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial on Thursday.
Pope John Paul II:
My own personal memories are of all that happened when the Nazis occupied Poland during the war. I remember my Jewish friends and neighbors, some of whom perished, while others survived. 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. More than half a century has passed, but the memories remain.
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.
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.''
Prime Minister Ehud Barak, addressing the pope:
When my grandparents, Elka and Shmuel Godin, mounted the death train ... near their home in Warsaw, headed toward their fate at (the Nazi death camp) Treblinka _ the fate of three million Jews from your homeland _ you were there and you remembered.
You have done more than anyone else to bring about the historic change in the attitude of the church toward the Jewish people, initiated by the good Pope John XXIII, and to dress the gaping wounds that festered over many bitter centuries.
Your coming here today, to the Tent of Remembrance at Yad Vashem, is a climax of this historic journey of healing.''