PHILADELPHIA (CNS) — The anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in Oświęcim, Poland, is “a solemn and mournful opportunity to reflect upon man’s capacity for evil,” said Metropolitan-Archbishop Borys Gudziak of the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia.
“Human sin has caused untold suffering in history,” the archbishop said. “The Holocaust is an archetype of this sinful capacity. The Shoah is a quintessential sign of the potential of human depravity. Evil is real. It needs to be named and confronted.”
The archbishop issued his statement on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, observed around the world Jan. 27. He said the remembrance was a time to honor all those who perished as well as “those who heroically sought to save the condemned.”
Operated from 1940 to 1945, Auschwitz was the Nazi’s largest camp and consisted of three parts: Auschwitz I, where many were imprisoned and murdered; the Birkenau extermination camp — also known as Auschwitz II — and Auschwitz III (Auschwitz-Monowitz), an area of auxiliary camps that included several factories.
“The Nazi crimes and those of their collaborators are to be condemned as well as all anti-Semitism that regrettably is raising its ugly head in our country and in many countries of the world,” Archbishop Gudziak said.
“We stand together with the Jews of the world and with all victims of genocide, violence, totalitarianism and inhumane ideologies. We pray for all living, those yet born and especially for the children of the world that they may know the fullness life, liberty, justice and peace,” he added.
In 1942, Auschwitz became the site of the mass extermination of over 1 million Jews, 23,000 Roma, 15,000 Soviet prisoners of war and thousands of Polish citizens of different nationalities.
The Nazis’ systematic persecution and genocide led to the deaths of 6 million Jews in Europe.
“May each one of us, where we live and work, witness to the gift of human dignity that God gives us. All of us. No matter what our race, religion, nationality, gender or disability,” Archbishop Gudziak said. “May we speak and write, think and act in ways that counter hate. May we build bridges, not walls. May the love of our faith be the true creed of our life.”
“This is our hope: ‘O Lord, we pray you: Never again!’” he added.