By Billy Atwell,Â Florida Catholic (4/20/2012)
VENICE —Â If a survivor of the Nazi Holocaust was asked how long it would take the world to forget about the 6 million Jews and Christians murdered in the concentration camps, what might their response be? The likely response would be that the world would never forget. After all, when such a horrendous tragedy happens, the impact on those who witnessed it or read about it would presumably be long-lasting.
Yet how often in todayâ€™s society is time taken to commemorate those killed in the Nazi genocide of the early 20th century? It would seem that landmarks such as the Auschwitz andDachau concentration camps, as well as theUnited StatesHolocaustMemorialMuseum, are the last remaining reminders that give reason to stop and think about what happened.
â€śWe are nourished from the same spiritual roots. We meet as brothers, brothers who at times in our history have had a tense relationship, but now are firmly committed to building bridges of lasting friendship,â€ť said Pope Benedict XVI of the relationship between the Catholic Church and Jewish believers. Addressing the holocaust, the Holy Father has said, â€śThat appalling chapter of history must never be forgotten or denied. On the contrary, those dark memories should strengthen our determination to draw closer to one another as branches of the same olive tree…â€ť
The Diocese of Venice takes these words to heart, and in a measure of interfaith brotherhood with local Jewish leaders, sets aside time each year to remember those who died during the holocaust. This yearâ€™s â€śYom Hashoah â€“ an Hour of Remembranceâ€ť will take place on Sunday, April 29 at 2:30 p.m. at Epiphany Cathedral inVenice.
Hosted by Bishop Frank J. Dewane, the keynote speaker for Yom Hashoah is Bishop Denis J. Madden, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Baltimore. Prior to ordination as a Bishop, Bishop Madden served as Associate Secretary General of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA), established by Pope Pius XI in 1926 to work on behalf of the Holy See in those lands in which from ancient times the majority of Christians belonged to various Eastern churches.Â Among his duties while with the CNEWA, he served as the chief negotiator among the three ecclesiastical authorities responsible for repairing the dome of the Church of the Resurrection inJerusalem. Prior to that assignment, Bishop Madden served as the Director of the Pontifical Mission forPalestineoffice inJerusalem.
As a reminder, two great Catholic saints are memorialized because of their close connection with the holocaust.
St. Edith Stein was a convert to Catholicism from Judaism, but was arrested inHollandby the Nazis and taken toAuschwitzwhere was murdered in a gas chamber. Likewise, St. Maximilian Kolbe also died inAuschwitz. In 1941, as punishment for one prisoner’s escape, 10 men were chosen to die. Then-Father Kolbe offered himself in place of a young husband and father. The men were sent to a starvation cell; St. Kolbe was the last to die.
Catholics and Jews share in the suffering caused by the holocaust. Yom Hashoah is but one opportunity to join in solidarity with our Jewish brothers and sisters to pray and ask God to mend the wounds caused, and to pray that such events never happen again.
For more information regarding Yom Hashoah, please contact Diocese of Venice Director of Ecumenism and Interreligious Affairs Deacon Pat Macauley at 941-484-9543 or firstname.lastname@example.org.