By Vatican News staff writer
Monsignor Janusz Urbańczyk, Permanent Representative of the Holy See to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) reiterated calls for an end to all old and new forms of anti-Semitism during the 1300th meeting of the body's Permanent Council on Thursday.
Reflecting on the 76th commemoration of the International Holocaust Remembrance Day celebrated on 27 January – the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in 1945 - the Permanent Representative recalled the “horrific and terrifying persecution and extermination of the Jews by the Nazi regime.”
On this day, we commemorate “the thousands of other victims of the Nazi homicidal and inhuman rage: Roma and Sinti, members of national minorities and believers of various faiths and confessions,” Msgr. Urbańczyk said. We also honour “those who protected persecuted people at the risk of their own lives, fighting the horrendous cruelty surrounding them.”
Memory and silence
In light of these atrocities which took place in the past, Msgr. Urbańczyk stressed the importance of memory and reflection.
Re-echoing Pope Francis’ address to a delegation from the Simon Wiesenthal Center in January 2020, Msgr. Urbańczyk noted that in today’s hectic world, “we find it hard to pause, to look within and to listen in silence to the plea of suffering humanity.”
Silence, he continued, “helps to keep memory alive” because “if we lose our memory, we destroy our future.”
He, therefore, prayed that the anniversary may “serve as a summons to pause, to be still and to remember,” adding, that “we need to do this, lest we become indifferent.”
Interreligious dialogue: indispensable tool to combat anti-Semitism
Alongside keeping a living memory of the past, Msgr. Urbańczyk highlighted the importance of interreligious dialogue as a tool to combat anti-Semitism because it aims to promote “a commitment to peace, mutual respect, the protection of life, religious freedom and the care of creation.”
He noted, as Pope Francis wrote in the Encyclical Letter Fratelli tutti, that different religions, based on their respect for each human person as creature called to be a child of God, contribute significantly to building fraternity and defending justice in society.
Holistic efforts needed
At the same time, Msgr. Urbańczyk lamented the “spread of the climate of evil and antagonism, in which anti-Semitic hatred has been manifested” in attacks in various countries, including some in the OSCE region.
He, therefore, reiterated the Holy See’s condemnation of “all old and new forms of anti-Semitism” re-echoing Pope Francis’ words that “for a Christian, any form of anti-Semitism is a rejection of one’s own Christian origins and, thus, a complete contradiction.”
Concluding, Msgr. Urbańczyk expressed hope that the International Holocaust Remembrance Day may not be a mere commemoration, but also a warning that anti-Semitism, if not countered with concerted efforts, will continue to spread in the OSCE region and beyond.