NEW YORK, NOV. 2, 2005 (Zenit.org).- With the strong support of the Holy See, the United Nations decided to declare Jan. 27 as an annual Holocaust Remembrance Day, in memory of the victims of the atrocity.
In a resolution, co-sponsored by 104 member states, the General Assembly on Tuesday decided on Holocaust Remembrance Day, drawing immediate praise from U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan. He said the United Nations would do its part to keep the memory alive in a bid to prevent future acts of genocide.
Jan. 27 is currently officially recognized as a day of remembrance for Holocaust victims in several countries, including the United Kingdom, Italy and Germany. It marks the day in 1945 when an advancing Soviet army liberated the largest Nazi death camp, Auschwitz-Birkenau, in Poland.
Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the Holy See’s permanent observer to the United Nations, took part in the debate, to stress that “remembering is a duty and a common responsibility.”
However, the archbishop lamented that “for 60 years we have had the horror of this kind of crime before us, in spite of which history has still repeated itself.”
“May the Holocaust serve as a warning to prevent us from yielding to ideologies which justify contempt for human dignity on the basis of race, color, language or religion,” the papal representative said at the U.N. headquarters.
In this connection, Archbishop Migliore appealed for renewal of support for Security Council Resolution 1624 “which both condemned ‘in the strongest terms the incitement of terrorist acts’ and repudiated ‘attempts at the justification or glorification of terrorist acts that may incite further terrorist acts.'”
“After the Shoah,” the prelate said, “the first step towards prevention was the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Many more steps forward are needed. In every country the memory of the Holocaust must be preserved as a commitment to spare future generations such horror.”
Finally, the archbishop recalled Pope John Paul II’s visit to the Holy Land in March 2000, when he “made a point of going to Yad Vashem, the memorial to the Shoah. At the foot of the Temple’s Western Wall he prayed for forgiveness and for the conversion of hearts and minds.”
The archbishop said: “Asking pardon purifies the memory, and remembering the Holocaust gives us an occasion for this purification of memory to occur, to detect early symptoms of genocide and to reject them, and to take timely and firm measures to overcome social and international injustices of all kinds.”
“The Holy See is ready to continue working in this sense,” he assured before the U.N. assembly.
The resolution rejects any denial of Holocaust as a historical event, urges states to develop educational programs that will instruct future generations about the horrors of genocide, and condemns all manifestations of religious intolerance, incitement, harassment or violence against people or communities based on ethnic origin or belief.
It also calls for actively preserving the sites of the Holocaust, including Nazi death camps, concentration camps, forced labor camps, and prisons, and to establish a U.N. program of outreach and mobilization on Holocaust remembrance and education.