by Junno Arocho Esteves
KRAKOW, Poland (CNS) — Humankind’s cruelty did not end with the Holocaust, but rages on in the suffering of those living through war, homelessness and persecution, Pope Francis said.
“This cruelty exists today. We say: ‘Yes, we have seen cruelty, 70 years ago; how they died shot, hanged or gassed.’ But today, in so many places in the world where there is war, the same thing happens,” the pope told a crowd gathered late July 29 outside the archbishop’s residence in Krakow where he is staying.
The pope’s words came at the end of a day focused on the suffering of innocents. He had begun the day with a silent prayer at the Auschwitz-Birkenau Nazi death camp in Oswiecim, followed by a visit to a local children’s hospital and participation in the Way of the Cross with young people at Blonia Park.
Calling it “a day of sorrow,” the pope said that in following the Way of the Cross, Christians were united in Jesus’ sufferings.
However, Christ not only “suffered 2,000 years ago,” but continues to suffer in today’s world.
“So many people suffer: the sick, those who are in war, the homeless, the hungry, those who are doubtful in life, who do not feel happiness, salvation or who feel the weight of their own sin,” he said.
Before unspeakable horrors and suffering — especially the pain of children who suffer — Christians may ask themselves why it happens, he continued.
“There are no answers for that question,” the pope said.
The pope also said his visit to Auschwitz-Birkeneau was a reminder of “such pain, such cruelty” that human beings are capable of inflicting.
“Is it possible that we men and women, created in God’s likeness, are capable of doing these things? These things were done. I do not want to make you bitter, but I have to say the truth. Cruelty did not end in Auschwitz, in Birkeneau. Even today, people are tortured; so many prisoners are tortured to make them talk. It is terrible!” he exclaimed.
“What I am telling you is a bit sad, but it is reality. But the fact that Jesus has taken upon himself all these things is also a reality,” the pope said.
Jesus loves everyone despite their sins, he concluded, inviting the young people to pray together for those who suffer from “so many bad things, so much wickedness.”
“When there are tears, a child seeks out his or her mother. We sinners, too, are children; let us look for our mother and pray to Our Lady together,” he said.