Churches, parishes and chaplaincies are being invited to mark Holocaust Memorial Day later this month.
The day, on January 27, remembers, not only the Holocaust of the Jewish people at the time of World War Two, but subsequent Genocides from the more recent past: Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur. As well as being a day on which the dead are remembered, it’s also a day when the living can learn lessons for the future, with a view to preventing the recurrence of such atrocities in our own lifetimes.
This year’s theme is The Power of Words and its focus will be helping people to reflect on the role words play, both to harm and to heal, to destroy and to build, in society today. Many organisations will be holding events to mark the day, ranging from simple candle-lighting ceremonies to postcard-writing activities, conferences, concerts, plays, reading events and exhibitions.
Archbishop John will attend the National Ceremony in Cardiff City Hall and give the blessing at the end of the event. He says: “The Holocaust is certainly one of the most vile and shameful examples from the catalogue of events which disfigure the history of the human race. Commemorating both it and its victims, whilst also recognising the terrifying perversity of those human minds which enabled such an atrocity to be devised and implemented is something which I wholeheartedly support.
“The persecution of any individual or group of human beings because of their race, religion or ethnic origin can never be justified. Remembering the Nazi’s attempt, by means of genocide, to mercilessly extinguish the very existence of such a group of people from certain parts of Europe is to recall events that must continue to be brought to mind in all their detail and in all their horror. The commemoration is not only appropriate, it is essential, because those events must never be forgotten.”
Richard Spencer, Holocaust Memorial Day Trust Wales support worker, is urging churches to get involved. He says: “Because religious identity has often been used to foment division and discrimination in past genocides, the HMD Trust encourages faith organisations, in particular, to use the day as a means of presenting the positive values and practices they share together. Whether the resulting event be a simple gathering of two or three for quiet contemplation, or a more ambitious venture, it would mark an important point of resolution at this, the start of the New Year, and be a powerful symbol of our hopes and efforts to make a better, kinder, society.”