"We cannot be fully ourselves without watching out for our brothers and sisters," Pope Francis shared with delegates of B'nai B'rith International.
“Where is your brother?” Pope Francis urged to be “troubled by this question” as he received a delegation from the Jewish human rights NGO B’nai B’rith International at the Vatican on May 30, 2022. During the audience, he invited them to remember “the Shoah and so many other atrocities.”
In front of the members of this organization, which he already knew as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, the Argentine pontiff expressed his concern about the “dangerous extremisms” that are rampant in the world, seeing material, educational and spiritual poverty as “the greatest risk factor.”
To fight against “forms of particularism and nationalism” the head of the Catholic Church invited cultivation of the memory of the past, “of the Shoah and of countless other atrocities.” And the Pope brought his guests back to the “shared spiritual memory” of Jews and Christians, with the first act of violence of humanity, that of Cain killing his brother Abel.
“We cannot take the Lord’s dream of a world filled with brothers and sisters, and replace it with a world of only children, marked by violence and indifference,” Pope Francis said. He urged his hearers to break the circle of violence and to begin to protect the other. “We cannot be fully ourselves without watching out for our brothers and sisters. We cannot find the Eternal One without welcoming our neighbor,” he added.
Friendship and dialogue
“Even before I became Pope, the promotion and deepening of Jewish-Catholic dialogue was something close to my heart – as a boy at school I had Jewish friends,” the Bishop of Rome confided in conclusion. In 2012, he hosted a commemoration of B’nai B’rith in his diocese of Buenos Aires.
The organization, founded in 1843 in the United States, is regularly received at the Vatican. It came there notably in 2015 under the pontificate of Francis, in 2011 under Pope Benedict XVI and in 1996 to see John Paul II.
During a general audience last January, for the International Day of Remembrance for the Victims of the Holocaust, Pope Francis called for the cultivation in new generations of “an awareness of the horror of this black page of history.”