Your Suffering Is Ours: Pope Honors Slovak Holocaust Victims

9/14/2021

Pope Francis honored Slovakian Holocaust victims and atoned for Christian complicity in wartime crimes as he sought to promote reconciliation Monday in a country where a Catholic priest was president of a Nazi puppet state that deported tens of thousands of its Jews.

Even though St. John Paul II made three trips to Slovakia, he never met here with the country’s Jews, evidence of the strained local Catholic-Jewish relations that endured in the post-war decades even with a Polish pope known for his outreach to Jews.

As a result, Francis’ welcome by the community—during the solemn 10-day period of repentance stretching from Rosh Hashana to Yom Kippur—was a significant step forward and was hailed as historic by local Jewish leaders who said it was a chance to look to the future.

Now, only about 5,000 Jews live in Slovakia, a largely Roman Catholic country of 5.5 million currently ruled by a four-party center-right coalition government.

Slovakia’s Catholic bishops over the years expressed regret for their wartime failings and asked forgiveness from the Jewish community, but an official process of dialogue only began after Slovak representatives from both faiths met with Francis at the Vatican in 2017.

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Outlet: 
Associated Press