By Philip Pullella
VATICANCITY – Pope Francis on Wednesday condemned Holocaust denial, as Australia came under pressure to refuse a visa to American rapper Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, because of his history of anti-Semitic remarks.
The pope spoke about Holocaust denial at the end of his weekly general audience at the Vatican, noting that Friday is be international Holocaust Remembrance Day.
“The remembrance of that extermination of millions of Jews and people of other faiths can neither be forgotten nor denied,” he said.
“There can be no constant commitment to building fraternity together without first eliminating the roots of hatred and violence that fuelled the horror of the Holocaust,” he said.
Hours earlier in Sydney, a Australian government minister said Ye may not be suitable for a visa.
Jewish groups around the world, such as U.S.-based Anti-Defamation League (ADL) have been warning about an increase of anti-Semitic incidents and remarks.
Claims Conference, an NGO which has been surveying Holocaust awareness and denial, said on Wednesday that the proportion of people who believe the Holocaust to be a myth or that the number of its victims was greatly exaggerated was rising.
“Survey after survey, we continue to witness a decline in Holocaust knowledge and awareness. Equally disturbing is the trend towards Holocaust denial and distortion,” Gideon Taylor, Claims Conference president, said in a statement published on Wednesday along with the results of a survey conducted in the Netherlands.
Ye, who has been dropped by major corporate partners, including Adidas, and banned from Twitter because of anti-Semitic remarks, denied the Holocaust on a radio talk show late last year in which he also praised Adolf Hitler.
Another incident that made headlines last year involving Holocaust denier was former U.S. President Donald Trump’s dinner in November with white supremacist Nick Fuentes, which was condemned by the two top U.S. Republicans, Senator Mitch McConnell and Representative Kevin McCarthy.
Fuentes attended the dinner with Ye. Trump has said the encounter at his Mar-A-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, was inadvertent and that he did not know who Fuentes was.