ROME (JTA) — German-born Pope Benedict XVI condemned Nazism as an "evil ideology" and praised all those who fought against it, sacrificing their lives in World War II.
Benedict, 83, spoke Sunday, on the final day of his four-day trip to Great Britain, at a ceremony in Birmingham beatifying the 19th century theologian Cardinal John Henry Newman, a Protestant convert to Catholicism.
In his homily the pope, who has said he was forced to join the Hitler Youth organization when he was a teenager, noted that commemorations taking place throughout the country on Sunday also marked "a significant moment in the life of the British nation" — the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain.
"For me, as one who lived and suffered through the dark days of the Nazi regime in Germany, it is deeply moving to be here with you on this occasion, and to recall how many of your fellow citizens sacrificed their lives, courageously resisting the forces of that evil ideology," he said. "Seventy years later, we recall with shame and horror the dreadful toll of death and destruction that war brings in its wake, and we renew our resolve to work for peace and reconciliation wherever the threat of conflict looms."