The Holocaust, Never to be Forgotten: Reflections on the Holy See's Document 'We Remember'
Commentaries by Avery Dulles SJ and Rabbi Leon Klenicki with an address by Edward Idris Cardinal Cassidy
(Paulist Press, 2001, 94pp, $20.95. Available from AD Books)
On 16 March 1998, the Vatican Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews issued a statement titled We Remember: A Reflection on the Shoah. The twelve-page document, which was presented by Cardinal Edward Cassidy, dealt with matters related to the Jewish Holocaust. It also wrote about the role of the Church during that period and the Catholic understanding of the Holocaust in Jewish and Christian history.
The document was a powerful exploration of the tragedy of the Shoah - the Jewish term for Holocaust - affirming that "while bearing their unique witness to the Holy One of Israel and to the Torah, the Jewish people have suffered much at different times and at many places. But the Holocaust was certainly the worst suffering of all."
The statement looks at the relation between Jews and Christians and Nazi anti-Semitism, concluding by looking to the future: "To remember this terrible experience is to become fully conscious of the salutary warning it entails: the spoiled seeds of anti-Judaism and anti-Semitism must never again be allowed to take root in any human heart."
In the present book, The Holocaust, Never to be Forgotten, the Holy See's document is reproduced in the first chapter, while two key experts, Professor, now Cardinal, Avery Dulles SJ, a highly regarded US Catholic theologian, and Rabbi Leon Klenicki, a well-known writer on inter-religious dialogue and director of the anti-defamation league of B'nai and B'rith, both contribute commentaries, while Cardinal Edward Cassidy provides a back-ground to the document.
The statement's significance is underlined in the commentaries and by Cardinal Cassidy. These make clear that the Catholic Church's response involves seeking forgiveness for any participation by Christians in the terrible evil of the systematic annihilation of the Jewish people and unequivocally rejecting and finding unacceptable the position of those who deny the Holocaust ever occurred.
The Holocaust, declares the statement, should never be forgotten and among Catholics there ought to be a '"firm resolve to build a new future in which there will be no more anti-Judaism among Christians or anti-Christian sentiment among Jews, but rather a shared mutual respect, as befits those who adore the one Creator and Lord and have a common father in faith, Abraham."
Anthony Cappello is a research assistant for the Thomas More Centre.