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Pope Says Catholic-Jewish Dialogue Important

Pope Benedict XVI poses for a picture after a meeting with representatives of the Jewish congregation at the Reichstag, which houses the German parliament, in Berlin 22 Sept. Also pictured are Archbishop Robert Zollitsch of Freiburg, head of the German bishops’ conference, left, and Italian Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican secretary of state, far right. (photo: CNS/Wolfgang Radtke, pool via Reuters) 

23 Sep 2011 – by Cindy Wooden

BERLIN (CNS) — The Nazi “reign of terror” clearly demonstrated the depths of evil that men are capable of when they deny God and the dignity of all people he created, Pope Benedict XVI told leaders of Germany’s Jewish community.

Speaking Sept. 22 with the Jewish representatives in a meeting room in the Reichstag, which houses the German parliament, the pope spoke about the need to continue remembering the horror of the Shoah, the importance of continuing Catholic-Jewish dialogue and the need for all believers in God to work together to bring moral values to society.

The Reichstag is a place of “appalling remembrance,” the pope said, because it was in the parliament building that “the Shoah, the annihilation of our Jewish fellow citizens in Europe, was planned and organized.”

The number of Jews in Germany today is estimated at about 105,000, most of whom immigrated from the former Soviet Union at the end of the Cold War.

The activity of Germany’s 108 Jewish communities is coordinated by the Central Council of Jews in Germany, which was founded in 1950 — a time when the country’s Jewish community numbered only about 15,000 members.

According to the council, there were between 500,000 and 600,000 Jews in Germany in the early 1930s. As the Nazis enacted progressively more restrictive laws, thousands of Jews fled. The Nazis killed an estimated 6 million Jews from Germany and surrounding countries before the end of World War II.

Pope Benedict said, “The Nazi reign of terror was based on a racist myth, part of which was the rejection of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of Jesus Christ and all who believe in him.

“The supposedly ‘almighty’ Adolf Hitler was a pagan idol, who wanted to take the place of the biblical God, the creator and father of all men,” the pope said.

The result of the Nazi attempt to replace God was horrific, he said.

“Refusal to heed this one God always makes people heedless of human dignity as well,” the pope said. He said the “terrible images from the concentration camps at the end of the war” showed “what man is capable of when he rejects God and what the face of a people can look like when it denies this God.”

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