(JTA) — Pope Francis called on his emissaries and followers to never forget the Holocaust.
“The memory of the Shoah and its atrocious violence must never be forgotten,” the pope said in a message through the Vatican’s secretary of state in Berlin to mark the 40th Anniversary of the Neocatechumenal Way. “It should be a constant warning for all of us of an obligation to reconciliation, of reciprocal comprehension and love toward our ‘elder brothers,’ the Jews.”
The Neocatechumenal Way is one of the Catholic Church’s biggest and most controversial missionary movements. The movement, founded in Spain in the 1960s, works to teach Catholic adults within their faith and each year sends out families on missions around the globe. Missionaries — estimates say there as many as 1 million — have been accused of cultural insensitivity.
Among the events over the weekend marking the anniversary was a Symphonic-Catechetical celebration at the Berlin Philharmonic commemorating Holocaust victims. “The Suffering of the Innocents” was composed by Kiko Argüello, the Neocatechumenal Way’s co-founder.
“Rooted in and inspired by the Biblical lamentation, this symphony commemorates the many victims of the Shoah,” read the message the pope sent through the secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro-Parolin, to the archbishop of Berlin, Heiner Koch, which was read aloud at the event.
Pope Francis, the former cardinal of Buenos Aires, in December called the Holocaust a “hell” in a book on Nazi medical experiments.
“The human arrogance exposed during the Shoah was the action of people who felt like gods, and shows the aberrant dimension in which we can fall if we forget where we came from and where we are going,” the pope wrote.