ON the day that Pope Francis, during his visit to Poland, asked the world to be more compassionate especially to migrants and refugees, a shopkeeper in India beheaded a man and hacked his wife to death over a row concerning a debt of just 15 rupees (€0.19) apparently because the couple were ‘untouchables’ and he was of a higher caste.
The Pope had already spoken out against the evil that is Daesh and the fact that there is a full blown war, not between religions but effectively the forces of stability against the forces of chaos.
On the following day, Francis became the third Pope in recent years to visit Auschwitz, the scene of the brutal murder of more than one million people, mainly but not exclusively of the Jewish faith, passing through the main gate with its chilling sign ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’ the German phrase meaning ‘Work makes you free.’
Visibly moved, the elderly pontiff looking sad and a little frail in his white robes walked through the camp, stopping to pray silently and clearly affected by the ghosts who must haunt this dreadful place.
Unlike previous papal visitors, he decided not to make any formal statement about the visit, letting his own sorrow and pain for those who had died speak for him. He did however meet with some of the now elderly survivors of the death camp, kissing them on each cheek and speaking to them softly.
The stoic dignity with which Pope Francis contemplated this ‘temple’ to man’s inhumanity will hopefully resonate throughout the world, but the juxtaposition of these two stories just reinforces the fact that whilst the majority of individuals around the world lead blameless lives, there are still a frighteningly large percentage who take no notice of acceptable moral norms and believe that they have the right to do as they wish no matter how it harms others.
Without even trawling through the internet, it is too easy to think of evil and persecution around the world, with Daesh being the most covered, but there is still murder and mayhem in Syria, Yemen, Nigeria, South Sudan and Palestine with troubles just waiting to erupt again in Turkey and some of the former Russian states.