The trip of Pope Benedict XVI to his native Germany inevitably recalled the country’s descent into madness during the 20th century. It was on the weekly ‘Octava Dies’ program on Vatican TV that papal spokesman, Fr Federico Lombardi SJ, on the Pope's four-day state visit to Germany. Said Fr Lombardi, "One cannot pass through Berlin without feeling the weight of the darkest page in the history of Germany and Europe in the last century: the madness for power and murder that marked the Nazi era."
The Jesuit priest said that the memory of the Nazis was "powerfully recalled" by the Pope on September 29 when he referred to the National Socialists of the era as a "band of thieves." Another important moment of the visit was when he met with a Jewish delegation, which included survivors and witnesses of the Holocaust. "But the light of those martyred by Nazism shines through the darkness of those times and continues to inspire the building of the future," asserted the spokesman.
Fr Lombardi mentioned that German President Christian Wulff had recalled the sacrifice of three notable Germans: Blessed Bernhard Lichtenberg, the pastor of the Catholic Cathedral of Berlin; Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the great Protestant theologian; and St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (1891-1942) who was Edith Stein, a Jew who converted to the Catholic faith and became a Carmelite nun, and was later murdered at Auschwitz.
"The ecumenism of the martyrs is testimony from which the ecumenical movement of today can find great depth and draw enthusiasm," said Fr Lombardi. "Sacrificing one's life as a witness to God and to Jesus Christ: could there be a more solid common ground, a firmer basis for continuing the journey in the hope of a union that is not just behind us, but is also ahead of us?"