VATICAN CITY (VIS) - Yesterday evening, the Holy Father attended a showing of the film: "Karol un uomo diventato Papa" (Karol, A Man Who Became Pope) which was screened in the Paul VI Hall in the presence of several thousand people. Based on a script written by Italian journalist Gian Franco Svidercoschi, the film covers the life of John Paul II until his election as bishop of Rome.
In an address following the showing, the Pope pointed out how the first half of the film "highlighted what happened in Poland under Nazi occupation," and he referred to the "repression of the Polish people and the genocide of the Jews. These were atrocious crimes which demonstrate all the evil contained in Nazi ideology. Shaken by so much pain and so much violence, the young Karol decided to transform his own life, responding to the divine call to the priesthood."
Benedict XVI indicated that the film contained scenes that, "in their crudity, give rise to an instinctive feeling of horror in viewers, bringing them to reflect on the depths of iniquity that can be hidden in the human soul. At the same time, evoking such aberrations cannot but give rise in all right-thinking people to a commitment to do all they can to ensure that such acts of inhuman barbarity are never repeated again."
"May 8, 1945 marked the end of that immense tragedy that sowed destruction and death in Europe and the world at a level never known before. ... Every time a totalitarian ideology crushes man underfoot, all humanity is seriously threatened.
"Memories must not pale with the passing of time," said the Pope, "rather they should remain as a strict lesson for our own and future generations. We have the duty to remind ourselves and others, especially the young, what forms of unprecedented violence can be reached by scorn for human beings and violation of their rights."
How, Benedict asked, can we not see "a providential divine plan in the fact that on the Chair of Peter a Polish Pope was succeeded by a citizen of Germany, where the Nazi regime affirmed itself with particular virulence, before attacking its neighbors, in particular Poland? Both these Popes in their youth - though on different sides and in different situations - were forced to experience the barbarism of the Second World War and the senseless violence of man against man, of peoples against peoples."
The Pope stressed how "nothing can improve in the world, if evil is not overcome; and evil can be overcome only through forgiveness. May the shared and sincere condemnation of Nazism and of atheist Communism serve as a commitment for everyone in building reconciliation and peace on the basis of forgiveness."
Prior to the screening of the film, Pope Benedict had participated in a ceremony in which his brother, Msgr. Georg Ratzinger, was decorated by Helmut Turk, Austrian ambassador to the Holy See, with the "Osterreichisches Ehrenkreuz fur Wissenschaft und Kunst, Erste Klasse" (Austrian First Class Cross of Honor for Science and Art). The medal was assigned to him on December 7, 2004 by Heinz Fischer, president of Austria, for his close cultural and priestly ties with the Republic of Austria.