By Robin Gomes
The Forum on the theme, “Remembering the Holocaust: Fighting Antisemitism”, was organized by the World Holocaust Forum Foundation in collaboration with Yad Vashem. The Holy See delegation was led by Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, within which there is Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews.
“I believe that the mere fact that so many representatives of the States have come, also from a historical point of view, was meant to send a strong signal against anti-Semitism,” the Swiss cardinal told Vatican news, explaining the significance of the January 23 Forum.
He said, “it was evident, even in the many of the speeches, that we must learn from history and that something like this must never happen again.” He pointed out that anti-Semitism is not a chapter that has been consigned to history books but is re-emerging even today, which should make us think.
Speaking about the causes of antisemitism, Cardinal Koch said they are many and cannot be summarized. “There are various reasons why people are afraid of foreigners, of others, because of the many challenges they face, and therefore this is transferred to Jews, for example.” He pointed out that today we notice “strong nationalist tendencies, a new reappearance of nationalism, which can also express itself in an anti-Semitic way”. Even though the causes vary from country to country, he said that nationalism and populism are the main causes.
In order to fight these trends, the cardinal said, one must take seriously the fears of the people and help them overcome them. He cited John's Gospel where Jesus tells his disciples they will have tribulations in the world but they must have courage because He has conquered the world. Catholics, the cardinal said, must take into account the fears of the people in the certainty that “we can overcome these fears in faith by opening ourselves to the other”.
“ To continue on this path,” Cardinal Koch said, “the Catholic Church is called in a special way to deepen the common heritage with Judaism - the common traditions, the shared values - and especially the "Nostra Aetate", the great declaration of the Second Vatican Council on Jewish-Christian dialogue.