Holy See warns against Holocaust denial and revisionism trends
By Linda Bordoni
Addressing the permanent council of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) on Holocaust Remembrance Day, Fr Janusz Urbańczyk upheld dialogue as a tool to combat prejudice, and warned of the perils of “distortions, including Holocaust denial and revisionism,” that “warp the importance of remembering this horrific event,” allowing the threat of anti-Semitism to lurk in Europe and elsewhere.
In his speech, the Holy See’s Permanent Observer to the OSCE said the commemoration of these abhorrent events includes two elements:
First, the remembrance of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp by the Allies on 27 January 1945.
Second, the reflection on the inhumane and mechanical persecution and extermination of Jews at the hands of the German Nazi regime, thus ending in the Shoah. The horrendous acts committed are a most drastic reminder of the danger of disregarding people’s intrinsic human dignity and urge a collective commitment to “saying […]: Never again!”
He recalled Pope Francis’ appeal on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day, in which he appealed to educators and young people “to not forget that tragic event of history so that we can build a future where human dignity is never again trampled by racist ideologies".
“In confronting today’s anti-Semitism, dialogue can serve as a powerful tool to combat prejudice and foster recognition of human dignity,” he said.
Dialogue and memory
Fr Urbańczyk explained that dialogue encourages encounter and creates an opportunity to learn about Judaism, “thus overcoming bias and recognizing the very close bonds between all members of humanity.”
Those bonds, he continued, that were sadly overlooked for centuries, “today call upon us to be directly involved and personally committed in constructing an environment of peace and respect for everyone.”
From such a perspective, he said, today’s commemoration “enable[s] memory to play its necessary part in the process of shaping a future in which the unspeakable iniquity of the Shoah will never again be possible.” As such, the importance of sincere remembering makes itself apparent, especially with the ongoing passage of time.
The dangers of Holocaust denial
Fr Urbańczyk then reflected on dangerous current tendencies to distort history – including Holocaust denial – and misinformation – especially in social media - that has a “deleterious effect on individuals and institutions.”
“These distortions are allowing the threat of anti-Semitism to lurk in Europe and elsewhere,” he said encouraging those present to work for the preservation of the truthful memory of the Holocaust.
“As Pope Francis underlined: it is necessary to remember and condemn that unspeakable cruelty, so that it remains a living memory, and will never be repeated again,” he said.
Fr Janusz Urbańczyk concluded reaffirming the Holy See’s unequivocal stance against old and new forms of anti-Semitism, and expressing the hope that this anniversary will provide us with “an urge to promote human dignity and oppose any kind of disinformation that would deny this dignity.”