Hollywood Rabbi Marvin Hier Met With Pope Francis in Vatican City

Pope Francis Meeting with Rabbi Hier - Publicity - H 2020
Courtesy of Simon Wiesenthal Center

Rabbi Marvin Hier — founder and dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center who is known in some circles as Hollywood's rabbi thanks to two Academy Awards and close associations to many actors, executives and entertainment industry insiders — met with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Jan. 20. 

According to information received by The Hollywood Reporter, Hier joined 54 people for a private audience with the Pope, who touched on two anniversaries (the 78th of the Wannsee Conference in 1942 and the 75th of the liberation of the death camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau) by cautioning that "if we lose our memory, we destroy our future." He added, "May the anniversary of the unspeakable cruelty that humanity learned of 75 years ago serve as a summons to pause, be still, and to remember. We need to do this lest we become indifferent."

His words followed remarks by Hier, who touched on the surging of anti-Semitism worldwide. "That is our dilemma, here we are in 2020 — anti-Semitism and bigotry are present everywhere. In the heart of our democracies in London, Paris, in Berlin, in the Parliaments, and here in Rome where an 89-year-old Holocaust survivor needs police protection to go shopping," he said. "This hate has now crossed the Atlantic and infected America’s cities, and her prestigious learning centers … even in the halls of Congress and the United Nations. Worse, reminiscent of the Holocaust years, religious Jews identified by their skull caps, or by their beards, are particularly vulnerable, even when they light their Chanukah candles in the privacy of their home in Monsey, N.Y."

Hier closed his remarks by expressing his gratitude to Pope Francis for the imminent release of Vatican archives that will shed light on the controversy surrounding Pope Pius XII and the Shoah. 

Rabbi Hier isn't the only notable Hollywood name who has met with Pope Francis as of late. Paramount Pictures chief Jim Gianopulos was there in November for a high-profile gathering of tech titans to participate in a conference on "Promoting Digital Child Dignity."