Holocaust a "Stain on History," Says Vatican

Address at U.N. Recalls Liberation of Nazi Camps by the Allies

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NEW YORK, JAN. 25, 2005 (Zenit.org).- The Nazis' systematic extermination of the Jews remains "a shameful stain on the history of humanity," says the Holy See.



Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the Holy See's permanent observer to the United Nations, highlighted this conclusion Monday when addressing the U.N. General Assembly, which commemorated the 60th-anniversary year of the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps in Europe by the Allied Forces.

"Today we contemplate the consequences of intolerance, as we recall all those who were targeted by the political and social engineering of the Nazis, elaborated on a tremendous scale and employing deliberate and calculated brutality," the archbishop said.

"Those considered unfit for society -- the Jews, the Slavonic peoples, the Roma people, the disabled, homosexuals, among others -- were marked for extermination," he said. The "Roma people" are commonly known as Gypsies.

"Those who dared oppose the regime by word and deed -- politicians, religious leaders, private citizens -- often paid for their opposition with their lives," the Vatican representative continued.

"Conditions were so designed as to make human beings lose their essential dignity and divest themselves of every human decency and sentiment," he said.

"The death camps," the archbishop added, "are also witnesses to an unprecedented plan for the deliberate, systematic extermination of a whole people, the Jewish people," in "the crime now known as the Shoah," the Holocaust.

"Taking place during one of the darkest chapters of the 20th century, it stands alone, remaining a shameful stain on the history of humanity and upon the conscience of all," he said.

"During his visit to Auschwitz in 1979, Pope John Paul II stated that we must let the cry of the people martyred there change the world for the better, by drawing the right conclusions from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights," Archbishop Migliore recalled.

"In a century marked by man-made catastrophes, the Nazi death camps are a particularly sobering reminder of 'man's inhumanity to man' and of his capacity for evil," he noted. "Nevertheless, we should remember that humankind is also capable of great good, of self-sacrifice and altruism.

"When natural or human calamities strike, as we have seen even in recent weeks, people display the best side of human society, with solidarity and brotherhood, and sometimes at personal cost."

Referring to the wartime liberation of the Nazi camps, the archbishop recalled, "we need only think of those courageous people from all walks of society, many of whom have been recognized as 'Righteous among the Nations,'" Israel's acknowledgement of those people who risked their lives to save Jews.

Archbishop Migliore added: "May all men and women of good will seize this solemn occasion to say 'Never again' to such crimes, no matter their political inspiration, so that all nations, as well as this organization, truly respect the life, liberty, and dignity of every human being."