A 30 member delegation of the Council of Religious Community Leaders in Israel met in Poland in recent days. The delegation included Latin Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos III and Greek Catholic Archbishop George Bacouni.

auschwitz religiousleaders

During their stay, the delegates visited the death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau. The meeting concluded with a time of common prayer, with words from the Psalms in Hebrew, Arabic and English. One fruit of the meeting was the statement of the Israeli Council of Religious Leaders, signed by the members of the Council on Wednesday, November 2, 2016, in the camp.

The statement included the following:

“As the leaders of the official religious communities in Israel, we have decided to embark together on an historic visit to Poland, and to the site of Auschwitz-Birkenau. This visit is meant to honor the memory of millions of Jews and other victims of the Holocaust, and to express the determination of the leaders of the religious communities in Israel to do everything in their power to prevent the recurrence of such atrocities. We call on all world leaders to act, in their countries and through the United Nations, to act with unwavering resoluteness against anti Semitism, hatred of the other, which once again plague contemporary society.

Here, in Auschwitz-Birkenau, the site of the most horrific crimes against humanity in history and the symbol of ultimate evil, where the murder of millions of Jews and others – men, women and children – was perpetrated by Nazi Germany, we declare our commitment to the sanctity of human life. We repudiate racism, fanaticism and extremism, particularly when these are committed, allegedly in the name of religion and in so doing desecrate religion.

The Council of Religious Community Leaders in Israel calls for an end to war and a prayer for peace in keeping with the vision of the prophets: “They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation shall not take up sword against nation, nor shall they learn war anymore.” Isaiah 2:4”.