Pope John Paul II

Dialogika Resources

Address to the New Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to the Holy See (excerpts)

Vatican City

...Our first meeting today, as you yourself mentioned, takes place under the influence of the political events of recent months and the completion of German unity on October 3 of this year; it was achieved not least of all through the collaboration of the Churches in your country....

... It was really the Second World War which came to an end on October 3 and made many people aware of what fate and guilt mean to all peoples and individuals. We think of the millions of people, most of them totally innocent, who died in that war: soldiers, civilians, women, the elderly and children, people of different nationalities and religions.

In this context we should also mention the tragedy of the Jews. For Christians the heavy burden of guilt for the murder of the Jewish people must be an enduring call to repentance; thereby we can overcome every form of anti-Semitism and establish a new relationship with our kindred nation of the Old Covenant. The Church, "mindful of her common patrimony with the Jews, and motivated by the Gospels' spiritual love and by no political considerations,... deplores the hatred, persecutions, and displays of anti-Semitism directed against the Jews at any time and from any source" [Second Vatican Council, declaration Nostra Aetate, 4]. Guilt should not oppress and lead to self-agonizing thoughts, but must always be the point of departure for conversion.