Holocaust calls us to have 'respect for the dignity of every person'

Selection of Hungarian Jews on the ramp at the Auschwitz II Birkenau death camp May or June 1944 Credit Auschwitz Album Yad Vashem public domain Selection of Hungarian Jews on the ramp at the Auschwitz II-Birkenau death camp, May or June 1944. | Auschwitz Album/Yad Vashem (public domain).

In a message marking Friday's observance of Holocaust Remembrance Day, a Vatican official has said it is reminder that we need to maintain vigilance against violations of human dignity.

"First and foremost, remembrance of the Holocaust, the Shoah – the planned annihilation of the Jewish people, and the planned extermination of Roma and Sinti and other groups of people – brings to mind all the victims of those most heinous crimes against humanity, whose terrible suffering unmasks the complete disregard for the inherent dignity of every person," Monsignor Janusz Urbanczyk, the Vatican's permanent representative fo the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, said at the group's Jan. 27 meeting.

Holocaust Remembrance Day marks the anniverary of the liberation of prisoners of Auschwitz concentration camp in 1945.

During World War II, more than 6 million Jews and at least 5 million non-Jewish Poles, Slavs, Romani, Soviets, Catholics, homosexuals, disabled persons, and political and religious dissidents were murdered at the hands of Nazis. The Nazi party justified its persecution and treatment of its victims by calling them subhuman and inferior "lives unworthy of life."

Msgr. Urbanczyk commented, "The suffering and ultimate sacrifice, the fear and tears, of the countless victims of blind hatred who suffered deportation, imprisonment and death in those perverted and inhuman places must never be forgotten."

He said the Holocaust summons us "to renew our commitment to ensure greater and unconditional respect for the dignity of every person. Special recognition and honour should also be given to those who, at the risk of their own lives, strove to protect the persecuted, their fellow men and women, resisting the homicidal folly around them."

"The past must serve as a lesson for the present and for the future, so as not to repeat history's terrible mistakes, and ensure that younger generations will not have to face this evil again. In this regard, the Holy See attaches great importance and actively operates in the field of education, especially in schools, to counter both anti-Semitism in general and Holocaust denial in particular," the priest stated.

"And finally, in the face of the outright barbarism of the Holocaust, in the face of the attempted destruction of an entire people, in the face of a cold, relentless violence and darkness, the international community, States and individuals must strive to live out the principles of peace, justice, solidarity and reconciliation," he said.

Because such cruelty remains in the world we must "open every possible pathway of peace and hope," he Msgr. Urbanczyk concluded.

Pope Francis observed Holocaust Remembrance Day by meeting with a delegation of the European Jewish Congress, during which he said that remembering the even is important so that such a tragedy never happens again.

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