Pope Denounces Past and Present Atrocities in Angelus Address
(09 Nov 08 - RV) Pope Benedict XVI's Angelus Address this Sunday was an intense appeal
against all forms of persecution and systematic slaughter past and present. 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.
From past atrocities Pope Benedict then turned his thoughts
to a present one, unfolding as we speak on the great continent of Africa, in the Democratic
Republic of Congo. He said “troubling reports continue to arrive from the region
of North Kivu….of bloody armed battles and systematic slaughter .....of numerous victims
many of them innocent civilians….” He continued: “Destruction, raids and violence
of every kind have forced tens of thousands to flee leaving what little they had to
survive. It is calculated that over one and a half million people are now seeking
Pope Benedict said “to each and every one of those people I give my
blessing and assure them of my constant and fervent prayers”. He also blessed and
encouraged the countless aid-workers struggling to ease some of the victims suffering,
above the many pastoral workers from the local Church”.
Then Pope appealed
to all sides, rebels and government forces, to work to restore peace to the martyred
land, to respect the law and above all the dignity of every person. In conclusion
Pope Benedict reflected on Thanksgiving, celebrated this Sunday in the Italian Church,
with the theme, “I was hungry and you gave me to eat”. He asked that greater attention
be paid to the “complex problem of world hunger” which has been made even more dramatic
by the drastic increase in the prices of basic food-stuffs. “I pray for the rural
world” he said, “especially for small farmers in developing countries”. “I encourage
and bless all who strive to see that no-one goes without healthy and sufficient nutrition”.
“Remember”, concluded the Pope “he who helps the poor, helps Christ”.
Benedict also greeted English speaking pilgrims: “I greet the English-speaking visitors
and pilgrims who are here today, especially the groups from Billingham in England,
Heulen in the Netherlands and Los Angeles, California. Today we celebrate the dedication
of the Lateran Basilica, the Mother Church of all the churches throughout the world.
Let us rejoice in this great sign of our unity in faith and love, and let us resolve
to become living stones, constantly growing into a holy Temple in the Lord. May God
bless you all!”