KAUNAS, Lithuania (AP) — The Latest on Pope Francis’ trip to the three Baltic nations of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia (all times local): 6:15 p.m. Pope Francis has warned Lithuanians not to forget the suffering…
KAUNAS, Lithuania (AP) — The Latest on Pope Francis’ trip to the three Baltic nations of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia (all times local):
Pope Francis has warned Lithuanians not to forget the suffering of past generations and stay alert to future threats as he visited a museum dedicated to the atrocities committed during a half-century of Soviet and Nazi occupation.
Francis denounced the “unrestrained ambition” of Lithuania’s past rulers and prayed for future ones to resist “the spiritual sickness that remains a constant temptation for us as a people.”
Francis spoke after visiting the Museum of Occupations and Freedom Fights, located in a former KGB headquarters where Lithuanians were detained, tortured and executed.
He also marked the 75th anniversary Sunday of the liquidation of the Vilnius Ghetto, when the final Jewish residents were executed or sent off to concentration camps.
Pope Francis is warning against a rebirth of the “pernicious” anti-Semitic sentiments that fueled the Holocaust as he marked the annual remembrance for Lithuania’s centuries-old Jewish community that was nearly extinguished during World War II.
Francis spoke at a Mass on Sunday that marked the 75th anniversary of the final destruction of the Ghetto in Vilnius, the Lithuanian capital which had been known for centuries as the “Jerusalem of the North” for its importance to Jewish thought and politics.
He warned against the temptation to desire primacy and domination over others. He prayed for the gift of discernment “to detect in time any new seeds of that pernicious attitude, any whiff of it that can taint the heart of generations.”
Historical revisionism is a hot topic in Lithuania, where ordinary Lithuanians executed Jews alongside the Nazi occupiers, wiping out the Jewish population of the capital of Vilnius during the war.
Pope Francis has paid tribute to Lithuanians who suffered and died during Soviet and Nazi occupations on the day the country remembers the near-extermination of its centuries-old Jewish community during the Holocaust.
Francis began his second day in the Baltics in Lithuania’s second city, Kaunas, where an estimated 3,000 Jews survived out of a community of 37,000 during the 1941-1944 Nazi occupation.
During Mass in Santakos Park, Francis honored both Jewish victims of Nazi-era executions and the Lithuanians who were deported to Siberian gulags or were tortured and oppressed at home during five decades of Soviet occupation.
He denounced those who debate who was more virtuous in the past and fail to address the tasks of the present — an apparent reference to historic revisionism. The issue is acute in Lithuania, where ordinary Lithuanians executed Jews alongside the Nazi occupiers, wiping out the Jewish population of the capital of Vilnius.