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Lessons from Auschwitz

OSWIECIM, Poland (CNS): Church leaders joined heads of state in commemorating the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, where more than 1 million mostly Jewish civilians were killed during World War II.

“The silence of Auschwitz-Birkenau’s victims impels us to uphold and order the upholding of the dignity of each human being,” Jewish-born Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger of Paris said in a speech during the January 27 commemorations.

“We are summoned to consider the past and think about the future, so we will stay conscious of the responsibility we carry,” he said.

The 78 year-old French Church leader, whose mother died in an Auschwitz gas chamber, spoke during the international ceremony on the site of the former German-run camp.

In a message sent with Cardinal Lustiger, Pope John Paul II said the tragic sufferings of Nazi victims should be remembered “not for re-opening painful wounds or for stirring up sentiments of hatred and revenge, but rather to honour the dead, to acknowledge historical reality and above all to ensure those terrible events will serve as a summons for the men and women of today to ever greater responsibility for our common history”.

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