As part of a meeting in Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, with members of the Slovak Jewish community, the Pope Francisco asked to refuse “all forms of anti-Semitism” and criticized “manipulations that instrumentalize religion”.

“We are united, I repeat, in condemning all violence, all forms of anti-Semitism, and in the effort so that the image of God in the human person is not desecrated”, asked the Pontiff on Monday, on his second day of tour in that country.

Francisco led the meeting in Rybne Square, Bratislava, where a monument is located commemorating the 105,000 victims of the Holocaust in Slovakia.

“In the madness of hatred, during the Second World War, more than one hundred thousand Slovak Jews were murdered. And later, when they wanted to erase the traces of the community, here the synagogue was demolished”the Pope raised, referring to a place of worship that had survived World War II and was later demolished in communist times.

The Pope was two days ago in Budapest, where on this same discursive line he had summoned Europe to “extinguish the fuse of anti-Semitism”, when meeting with Jewish leaders from Hungary.

During the meeting this Monday, the Pope recalled the time when Slovakia was under the command of the priest Josef Tiso, an ally of the Nazi regime, when tens of thousands of Slovak Jews were deported and killed.

“Here the name of God was dishonored, because the worst blasphemy that can be caused is to use it for one’s own ends, more than to respect and love others “, regretted Jorge Bergoglio.

Three days before the arrival of the Pope, the government of Slovakia issued an apology for the first time for the role played in the Holocaust by the Tiso regime.

“Here, before the history of the Jewish people, marked by this tragic and indescribable offense, we are ashamed to admit it: how many times the ineffable name of the Most High has been used to carry out actions that for their lack of humanity are unspeakable! How many oppressors have declared : ‘God is with us’, but they were the ones who were not with God “, he delved in that direction.

With the rejection of anti-Semitism becoming one of the axes of the tour that Francis began in Budapest and will end on Wednesday in Bratislava, the Pontiff showed his rejection of “manipulations that instrumentalize religion”, amid the controversies over the advancement of Christian leaders with ultra-conservative positions in the region, such as the Hungarian Viktor Orban.

“Because even today there are no vain and false idols that dishonor the name of the Most High. They are the idols of power and money that impose themselves on the dignity of man, of the indifference that looks elsewhere, of the manipulations that instrumentalize religion, making it a matter of supremacy or reducing it to irrelevance.. And so is the forgetfulness of the past, the ignorance that justifies everything, anger and hatred “Francisco added.

Before meeting with the Jewish community, the Pope paid a brief visit to the center “Belen”, run by nuns, which takes care of disabled or homeless people and highlighted the work they do.

“I thank you so much for the work you do”Francisco said, at the door of the structure where he met 30 people who lived on the street until they were welcomed by the center.

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