Holy See deplores Iran Holocaust conference

The Vatican has deplored Iranian government denials of the Holocaust, reiterating that the memory of that "immense tragedy" should remain as a warning to end conflict and respect the legitimate rights of people.

AsiaNews reports that in a Vatican Press Office communique on the Holocaust conference sponsored by the Iranian government, the Holy See reiterated its own position on the Holocaust.

"Last century saw an attempt to exterminate the Jewish people with millions of Jews murdered of every age and social status for the only reason that they belonged to the same people," the Vatican statement said.

"The Holocaust was an immense tragedy before which we cannot remain indifferent. The memory of those horrible events must remain as a warning for people's consciences in order to end conflict, respect the legitimate rights of all peoples, urge people towards peace in truth and justice.

"Pope John Paul II asserted this position, among other places, at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem on March 23, 2000. His Holiness Benedict XVI reaffirmed it during his visit to the Auschwitz extermination camp on 28 May, 2006," the statement said.

Fr David Jaeger, a Jew, an Israeli and a Franciscan father, told AsiaNews that "statements coming from there [Iran] about the Holocaust profound insult me as a Jew, as a Catholic and above all as human being. I hope no one will exploit the Holocaust and my people any more and that everyone, with no exception, will hold an attitude of respect coupled with the determination of not allowing such outrages against God and humanity from taking place again."

The human heart, the heart of peace

Meawhile, the Vatican Information Service reports that Pope Benedict's message for the World Day of Peace 2007 was released yesterday by Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino and Bishop Giampaolo Crepaldi, respectively president and secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

According to Cardinal Martino, the Pope's Message is structured in three parts.

The first part highlights "the meaning and value of the connection between the human person and peace, considered and presented through the theological-spiritual categories of 'gift and task'", Cardinal Martino said.

"In the second part, the truth of the human person is related to the new and innovative concept of 'ecology of peace.' In the third part, the truth about human beings is considered with reference to the complex field of respect for their fundamental rights, of international humanitarian law and of certain responsibilities inherent to the activity of international organisations.

Later in the Message, "the Holy Father affirms that certain things are and must remain beyond the disposal of human will, these are the right to life and to religious freedom." The former because it is a gift and the latter because "it opens nature to something that transcends it."

On the subject of the natural equality of all persons, the Holy Father highlights how "inequalities of social status and gender are worrying causes of instability in the building of peace," said the cardinal.

In a section devoted to the "ecology of peace," the Pope poses a series of questions that "highlight how the problem of the relationship with nature is closely associated with the construction, among mankind and between nations, of ecological human relationships, in other words, relationships that respect the dignity of the person and his or her authentic needs."

Pope Benedict's message also reiterates that "true and stable peace presupposes respect for human rights anchored in a strong conception of the human person".

The pope also urged the international community Tuesday to apply humanitarian law to protect civilian lives in present-day conflicts, saying efforts were needed to prevent such situations as occurred during the recent war in Lebanon.

"The heart-rending situation in Lebanon and the new shape of conflicts, especially since the terrorist threat unleashed completely new forms of violence," demand that the international community reaffirm humanitarian law, the pope said.

Holy See tells Iran Holocaust was immense tragedy, a warning for the future (AsiaNews, 13/12/06)
The human person, the heart of peace (Vatican Information Service, 12/12/06)
Pope: true peace needs respect for human rights (AsiaNews, 13/12/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Holocaust (Wikipedia)

Vatican's secret archives now open to scholars (CathNews, 19/9/06)
John XXII lobbied to save Jews, Israeli scholar finds (CathNews, 7/12/06)

13 Dec 2006