Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land - 25/03/2000 info: email@example.com
The Pope at the Yad Vashem memorial
Jerusalem, March 23, 2000
Soon after the meeting with the President of Israel Ezer Weisman the Pope was driven out to the Yad Vashem Memorial, a hill overlooking the small village of Ain Karem. The memorial for the fallen during the Holocaust (Shoah) is also a memorial for the Just. Here the pope arrived in a carcade and was received into the main memorial hall where the "flame" of life is kept burning in memory of the victims of this treacerous event. Certainly this visit to Yad Vashem is seen by many as a very important step because it is the tangible sign of the changes that has undergone in the Catholic Church since Vatican Council II, an event 30 years old, but which is not well known among the Jewish community, let alone the whole process of dialogue which went on ever since. This visit has made it possible to expose also the Jewish population to the teaching of the Church, a theme which sometimes has been neglected. This was an opportunity for the Pope to re-state the teachings of the church which he has been enphasising during his pontificate.
The Pope was received outside the hall by the Prime Minister of Israel Yehud Barak and the Yad Vashem council chairman Shevah Weiss and board of directors chairman Avner Shalev. He entered the hall accompanied by the Prime Minister and he welcoming guests. All those present in the memorial hall stod up as the Pope entered the Hall of remembrance. He went straight to the prepareed seat facing the burning flame after being introduced to various members of the Yad Vashem committee. Standing he listened to the introduction and welcome to the memoral event commemorating the 6 million jews killed during the holocaust. The Choir then performed a jewish song written by a parachutist who died behind enemy lines in 1944. The Pope, still standing partecipated emotionally to the melanchonic tone of the song. Then the Pope was invited to rekindle the flame of the Hall of remembrance. Here he stood for a long moment in silence and prayer. Then the speaker proclaimed that "We unite in the blessed memory of the 6 million jews martyrs. We remember with veneration even the corageous fighters who fought for the keeping of the jewish traditions the rifghteous who risked their lives who risked their lives to save the jews. Then e wreath of yellow and white flowers was laid on the remains of the fallen.
A moving affectionate letter of a father written from one of the concentration camps was read in Hebrew and English. Another letter written by the mother of the same Michael was read after which the prayer for the souls of the fallen was sung. All then were invited to be seated. The Speaker then introduced Pope John Paul II who then greated holocaust survivors who were standing at the side of the memorial hal. The Pope chatted friendily which each and every holocaust survivor present. Soon afterwards he delivered his speech.
After the speech the Pope sat down. Then the Prime Minister delivered his address. .
The Pope was then presented with a full size copy of illustrations from the bible. The ceremony came to an end with the choir's partecipation. Accompanied by the Prime Minister His Holiness left the hall of remembrance after meeting with some of those present.