Concern over global rise in attacks on Jews as the world marks 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.
Ahead of this year’s annual Holocaust Memorial Day, Archbishop Kevin McDonald has urged society to acknowledge and condemn the “great evil” that is anti-Semitism.
Archbishop McDonald, Chairman of the Catholic Bishops’ Committee for Catholic-Jewish relations and a Consultor to the Holy See’s Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, noted that this year;s commemoration, observed on Monday 27 January, is of particular significance, as it marks the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, recalling “one of the most infamous and shameful episodes in European history”.
“it is a time to rememer all those who died in the Nazi concentration camps and all those who continue to be affected by those terrible events”.
Archbishop McDonald told The Catholic Universe:
“I myself visited Auschwitz last year and it is an experience like no other. No words can describe it, but evil.”
“This year’s Holocaust Memorial Day also comes at a time when there is a marked rise in anti-Semitic incidents both in this country and in other parts of the wolrd. The reasons for this are many and complex but it is a great evil and it must be acknowledged and condemned,” he added.
The archbishop noted that the Catholic Church’s condemnation of anti-Semitism is enshrined in the ground-breaking document of the Second Vatican Council, Nostra Aetate. Pointing out that the document stresses the unique bind that unites Christians and Jews, he said: “The Jews are our elder brothers and sisters. With them we look forward in hop to a better world – a world in which the prophecies of everlasting peace and reconciliation which are found in the scriptures we share will be fulfilled.”
Theresa Alessandro, director of Pax Christi, stressed how important it is to contine to share “almost-unspeakable episodes of our history”, such as the Holocaust, as they both honour the victims who suffered and act as a warning for today’s society not to allow such acts of horror and cruelty to occur ever again.
“On Holocaust Memorial Day we remember the six million Jews murdered during the Holocaust, the millions of others such as Roma, Sinti, disabled and gay people, killed under Nazi Persecution.
“We also remember those killed in subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur,” Ms Alessandro told The Catholic Universe: “It is important for all of humanity that we keep sharing these almost-unspeakable episodes of our history. They are our opportunity to honour the individual and the communities who have suffered so much at the hands of fellow human beings.
“They remind us that discrimination and lack of respect for human rights can lead to horrific, deliberate violcence and suffering on a massive scale and over long periods of time, carried out by people who probably did not imagine they were capable of it.
“At Pax Christi we work for peace based on justice and a world where human rights are respected, basic needs are met, people feel sage and valued in their communities and we care for our common home,” Ms Alessandro added.
Source: Nick Benson, The Catholic Universe