To the people of the Diocese of New Westminster,
On January 27th, Holocaust Remembrance Day will be marked around the world.
I would ask that we all take some time to reflect on the murder of six million Jews and five million Soviet prisoners of war, ethnic Poles, Roma, Serb civilians, people with disabilities, political opponents of the Nazis, criminals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, gay and bisexual men, black people and others, in the Holocaust.
What do the events of the Holocaust tell us about our humanity? While we understand the historical details of those events, we cannot do so in a way that avoids appreciating our connection to what happened. The murderous atrocities of the Holocaust were not committed by creatures from another realm, but by people. The hatred and ideology that led to the Holocaust did not arise out of a vacuum, but has its roots in many places, including Christian antisemitism. We must accept and atone for Christianity’s role in these horrors. This means we must name antisemitism when it occurs, support those affected by it, and work to end its evils.
Time and time again humanity has shown the depths to which it can sink. As we remember, we are called to a different reality, one where we live out the hope that love, justice, and respect will triumph, and that new relationships will be possible and flourish.
Please pray for the martyrs, the survivors, the victims, and the heroes of the Holocaust, and ask the Creator to strengthen our resolve so that “never again” becomes our new reality.
The Right Revd John Stephens, Bishop
Diocese of New Westminster