Centre for Dialogue and Prayer in Oświęcim

1987-02-22 2nd Declaration concerning the Carmelite Convent at Auschwitz


Geneva, February 22, 1987

Having recalled to mind the words of the Declaration of 22 July, 1986, recognizing that Auschwitz should remain for ever the site of the Shoah, which took place as a result of the Nazi determination to destroy the Jewish people in a unique, unthinkable and indescribable undertaking;

In a common desire to see respect for the memory of the dead in those places where the Nazi crimes were perpetrated, in particular the extermination of the vast majority of the Jewish communities in Europe;

Recalling this dramatic period which also demands remembrance of and profound respect for the sufferings undergone by the Polish nation at this time and in this place;

The undersigned solemnly agree on the following:

1. The Catholic delegation declares that, being keenly aware of its responsibility for future generations, it is committed to a project which will involve the European Churches in the creation of a Center for information, education, encounter and prayer.

2. This Center will be set up outside the boundaries of the camps at Auschwitz and Birkenau. With this intention, the European Catholic Churches have already been approached, as well as all those ready to support the project. The steps to be taken are:
a) to initiate discussion among the European Churches on the Shoah, as well as on the martyrdom of the Polish people and the other peoples of Europe, which arose out of the totalitarian violence existing during and at the end of the 1939-1945 war;
b) to combat disinformation about the Shoah, prevent it being reduced to the level of the commonplace or made a subject of Revisionism;
c) to receive groups of visitors to the camps and provide them with further information;
d) to promote Jewish-Christian dialogue.

3. The establishment of this Center constitutes both the continuation and the outcome of the commitments undertaken by the Meeting at Geneva on 22 July 1986.
This implies that the life of prayer begun by the Carmelites will take its rightful place in this new context, be ratified and assume its true meaning, while at the same time taking into account the legitimate sentiments expressed by the Jewish delegation. Thus there will be no permanent place of Catholic worship within the boundaries of the camps at Auschwitz and Birkenau. Each one will be able to meditate there according to personal feelings, religion and faith.

4. The Catholic delegation specifies that Cardinal Macharski will supervise the development of the project; bishops from other countries commit themselves to provide the means for it and to ensure it is completed within two years. Cardinal Macharski will keep President Theo Klein informed as to the progress of the project.

5. The Jewish delegation subscribes to the above commitments made by the Catholic delegation.

6. The two delegations arc conscious of having conducted their dialogue in accordance with their common desire:
— to stress the unique position of the Shoah in the Hitlerian tragedy which so harshly affected the peoples of Europe, especially the Polish people;
— to see that the identity and faith of every man and woman he respected, both during their lifetime and in the place of their death.

Signatories:
Maitre Theo Klein, President of the "Conseil Representatif des Institutions Juives", France; President of the European Jewish Congress
Cardinal Albert Decourtray, Archbishop of Lyons
Chief Rabbi Rene-Samuel Sirat, Chief Rabbi of France
Prof. Ady Steg, President of the "Alliance Israelite Universelle"
M. Markus Pardes, President of the "Comite des Organisations Juives" of Belgium
Prof. Tullia Zevi, President of the "Unione delle Comunità Israelitiche" of Italy
Cardinal Franciszek Macharski, Archbishop of Cracow
Cardinal Godfried Danneels, Archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels
Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger, Archbishop of Paris
P. Stanislaw Musial, S.J.,
M. Jerzy Turowicz, members of the Polish Episcopal Commission for Relations with Judaism

and - not present at the first meeting:
Dr. Gerhardt Riegner, representing the International Jewish Committee for Inter-religious Consultations
M. Sam Hoffenberg, Permanent Delegate of the International Council of B'nai B'rith
Dr. E.L. Ehrlich, B'nai B'rith, Europe
M. Georges Schneck, President of the "Consistoire Israelite" of Belgium
Bishop Kasimierz Gorny, Auxiliary Bishop of Cracow
P. Bernard Dupuy, O.P.,
P. Jean Dujardin, Superior General of the "Oratoirc" of France, members of the "Comite Episcopal Francais pour les relations avec le Judaïsme".

Source: http://www.sidic.org/en/docOnLineView.asp?class=Doc00539

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