Society of St Pius X & Vatican II

Dialogika Resources

General Audience: On lifting excommunications; Remembering the Shoah

Before my greetings to the Italian pilgrims, I have three statements I wish to make.

The first: It is with joy that I have learned the news of the election of Metropolitan Kirill as the new Patriarch of Moscow and of all the Russias. I invoke upon him the light of the Holy Spirit for a generous service to the Russian Orthodox Church, entrusting him to the special protection of the Mother of God.

Second, in the homily that I gave on the occasion of the solemn inauguration of my pontificate, I said that the 'call to unity' is an 'explicit' duty of the Pastor, and commenting on the words in the Gospel about the miraculous catch of fish, I said: 'although there were so many, the net was not torn', and after these words of the Gospel I continued: 'Alas, beloved Lord, with sorrow we must now acknowledge that it has been torn!' And I continued: 'But no—we must not be sad! Let us rejoice because of your promise, which does not disappoint, and let us do all we can to pursue the path towards the unity you have promised . . . Do not allow your net to be torn, help us to be servants of unity!'

Precisely in order to fulfill the service of unity, which distinguishes in a special way my ministry as Successor of Peter, I decided a number of days ago to grant the remission of the excommunication that four bishops had incurred when they were ordained by Archbishop Lefebvre in 1988 without a pontifical mandate. I carried out this action of paternal tenderness because these bishops had repeatedly expressed to me their acute suffering over the situation in which they had found themselves. I hope that this gesture of mine will be followed by concerted effort on their part to take the further steps necessary to realize full communion with the Church, testifying in this way to their true fidelity and true recognition of the magisterium and authority of the Pope and of the Second Vatican Council.

Third, in these days during which we commemorate the Shoah, I am reminded of the images that I encountered on my repeated visits to Auschwitz, one of the concentration camps in which the brutal slaughter of millions of Jews took place, innocent victims of a blind racial and religious hatred. As I renew with affection the expression of my full and unquestionable solidarity with our Brothers who were the recipients of the First Covenant, I hope that the memory of the Holocaust may induce humanity to reflect on the unpredictable power of evil when it conquers the heart of man. May the Holocaust be for all an admonition against forgetting, against denial or reductionism, because violence against a single human being is violence against all. No man is an island, as a well-known poet wrote. May the Holocaust especially teach to both the old and the new generations that it is only the laborious journey of listening and dialogue, of love and forgiveness that leads the peoples, cultures, and religions of the world to the desired destination of fraternity and peace in truth. May violence never again humiliate the human dignity!