Archbishop's Holocaust Memorial Day Statement 2008
Monday 28th January 2008The Archbishop of Canterbury gave the following statement at the national Holocaust Memorial Day event that was held in Liverpool on Sunday 27 January 2008
'I will lead them in paths that they have not known' says the Lord to the prophet Isaiah (Is. 42.16). Finding the new way is a challenge because the paths we know are so often those of fear and suspicion of those who are other. That is why, again and again, we create victims out of those who simply are who they are. In this city, we might well remember those countless innocents who passed through the port to be sold as slaves in America. Have we learned anything? The history of the last century is not encouraging; and the horror and tragedy we remember today is the worst and most terrible episode of that last century.
But we do remember. And that in itself is the beginning of hope. 'O earth, cover not their blood'; we can at least thank God that we have been the strength not to bury the shame and the suffering, but constantly to call it to mind, to remind us what human beings are capable of. And we pass on that remembering to a new generation, saying, 'Whatever you forget, remember this: this is how it was. Remember not for bitterness, not for guilt, not for vengeance, which belongs to God as the scriptures say, but for the truth's sake. Because if you remember perhaps you will also recognise, recognise where the same shame and suffering are to be found now.'
Today we seek to stand in the truth, to say yet again and say with and for a new generation that we are called away from the paths we have known, from a world where every stranger is a threat and every threat must be met with violent rejection. Standing in the truth is knowing the fear in our hearts and yet being able to hear God saying, 'Fear not, I am with you, I have called you by name'. And as we hear our name called, we remember that God has called every human man, woman and child by name, once and for all, has made them unique and uniquely precious. If we can hear that, we can at last let ourselves be led into the new paths that are promised, the paths of peace.'
© Rowan Williams 2008