Pope Francis: Remembrance Is the Antidote to ‘Escalation of Evil’

The Holy Father met with members of the Jewish service organization B’nai B’rith International at the Vatican on May 30, saying, ‘Let us go forward together, on the basis of our shared spiritual values, to defend human dignity against all violence and to seek peace.’

Pope Francis meets a delegation from B’nai B’rith International at the Vatican on May 30.
Pope Francis meets a delegation from B’nai B’rith International at the Vatican on May 30. (photo: National Catholic Register / Vatican Media)

The world is facing an “escalation of evil,” Pope Francis told members of a Jewish service organization on Monday, but there is an “antidote.”

The Pope told a delegation from B’nai B’rith International at the Vatican on May 30 that people around the world faced insecurity due to “many conflicts and dangerous forms of extremism.”

“In our time, dear friends, world peace is also threatened by forms of particularism and nationalism, driven by selfish interests and unbridled greed,” he said.

“This increases the risk, in the end, of even greater contempt for human dignity and rights.”

“The antidote to this escalation of evil is remembrance: remembrance of the past, remembrance of its wars, remembrance of the Shoah and of countless other atrocities.”

B’nai B’rith, which means Children of the Covenant, was founded in New York City in 1843. The Pope noted that the organization, headquartered in Washington, D.C., had “a long history of contacts with the Holy See,” beginning after the publication of the groundbreaking Vatican II document Nostra Aetate in 1965.

In his address, the 85-year-old Pontiff, who has attended public events since May 5 in a wheelchair due to knee pain, reflected on Cain’s murder of his brother, Abel, in the Book of Genesis.

He recalled that in Genesis 4:45, God put “a mark” on Cain.  

He said: “This shows the ‘strategy’ of heaven: to break the cycle of violence, the spiral of hatred, and to start protecting one another.” 

“It is my hope that you will persevere in this, that you will continue to protect our sisters and brothers, especially those most vulnerable and neglected. This we can do together: We can work for the poor, for peace, for justice, and for the protection of creation.”

Concluding his address, Pope Francis said: “Even before I became pope, the promotion and deepening of Jewish-Catholic dialogue was something close to my heart — as a boy at school I had Jewish friends — for it is a dialogue made up of encounter and concrete gestures of fraternity.” 

“Let us go forward together, on the basis of our shared spiritual values, to defend human dignity against all violence and to seek peace.” 

“May the Almighty bless us, so that our friendship may grow and we can work together for the common good. Thank you. Shalom!”