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Saturday, December 3, 2022

Archbishop Zore on the Day of Remembrance for Victims of All Totalitarian Systems: It is not just an interpretation of history, but violence against it

By: C. R., radio Ognjišče

Slovenia and Europe celebrated the European Day of Remembrance for Victims of All Totalitarian and Authoritarian Regimes. In the afternoon, therefore, several ceremonies were held in Ljubljana, among other things, President Borut Pahor laid a wreath at the monument to all the victims of the wars. Before laying the wreath, Pahor received high-ranking representatives of religious communities, then attended the Holy Mass in the Ljubljana Cathedral, which was offered by Ljubljana Archbishop Stanislav Zore, Radio Ognjišče reported.

In his sermon, Archbishop Stanislav Zore reminded, among other things, that August 23rd is the day when we celebrate the Day of Remembrance for Victims of All Totalitarian and Authoritarian Regimes. “As we know, the date was chosen because two regimes, equally totalitarian and equally ruthless, came together on that day, German Nazism and Soviet Stalinism. Hitler’s Foreign Minister Ribbentrop and Stalin’s Foreign Minister Molotov sat down at a common table and signed an agreement that is called the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact after the signatories, although it was actually a collusion between Hitler and Stalin. Although it was officially a non-aggression pact between Germany and the Soviet Union, there was also a secret part of the agreement hidden from the international public, namely the division of spheres of influence between Germany and the Soviet Union. Also from this pact, especially from its secret part, the Second World War started with all tens of millions of victims and with immeasurable spiritual, cultural, and material damage,” said Archbishop Zore.

“In this Resolution, the European Parliament recalls some facts that are important. Namely, that no political body or political party has the exclusive right to interpret history. Unfortunately, we can see that it is often not just an interpretation of history, but violence against history, because newly discovered facts are not considered and every new knowledge is declared a revision and falsification of history,” he said.

“I am always most shaken up by the fact that evil is aware of the wickedness and inadmissibility of its behaviour, so it hides it. With secret agreements, with secret official documents, with barriers behind which it hides its crime, with the persecution of prayers and candles at crime scenes, with a deep, deaf, forced silence, with which they try to justify their actions,” said Archbishop Zore and added that evil knows that its behaviour is criminal, but nevertheless decides to do it, defends it ardently and is ready to bring it to the end – and the end is always that evil collapses into itself, as we could see with the collapse of communism in second half of the last century. But before, it rears with the crimes it causes on a mass scale. “This pact, which led to the Second World War, the biggest war on our earth so far, was the reason why in 2009 the European Parliament, with the Resolution on European consciousness and totalitarianism, dedicated August 23rd to all victims of totalitarian and autocratic regimes,” he reminded. He estimated that European unification at the time of the resolution was a response to the suffering caused by the two world wars, the Nazi tyranny that led to the Holocaust, and the spread of totalitarian and undemocratic communist regimes in Central and Eastern Europe. “That the memory of Europe’s tragic past must be preserved, that the victims be honoured, the perpetrators condemned, and the foundations laid for reconciliation based on truth and memory,” said the archbishop.

“Where evil dwells, there righteousness remains outside, a beggar, mocked, persecuted, and rejected. Justice is closely related to right, and we have already said that totalitarianisms hide their actions because they are not just, because they are not consistent with what is right. But only justice based on truth can ensure that good is called good and evil is called evil. Only truth-based justice is a guarantee that we call events, actions, phenomena and also persons by their right names and thus show them in the right light, as Jančar points out. Justice can only be at home where honest people live who accept the truth about others and about themselves,” said Archbishop Zore.

Our remembrance of the suffering and martyred people must not stand still. Undoubtedly, memory is extremely important. So important that the hijacking of memory represents an additional injustice to the series of those already inflicted. Damnatio memoriae is by no means a practice limited to the Roman Senate but has also been diligently used by totalitarian regimes – from the mining of chasms to the burning of archives.

The right to memory is also the right to a grave. There are still Creons, kings who forbid the burial of victims, but thank God, there are also Antigones, who cannot help but listen to the voice of the heart and strive for all the dead to find their place of peace and waiting for the resurrection. When the heart speaks, it cannot be silenced by arrogance, by laws, or by autocracy…the heart, if it is worthy of the name, is ready to suffer even martyrdom, but it cannot deny itself.

He invited everyone to care for mercy along with justice. “Justice without mercy can degenerate into righteousness when, in the zeal for justice, we begin to be unjust. Justice without mercy necessarily ends in punishment, whereas justice with mercy acknowledges the truth, while opens space for confession, repentance, and conversion. With this, for freedom and the future. Mercy never turns its eyes away from the facts, but on the other hand, it never, really never loses sight of the human being,” he said and concluded the sermon with the words: “It is about the human being. If we look for fragments of truth to complete history with them, if we descend into the abyss to bring out those who were swept into them, if we take care of the graves to place the dead in them, so that they become a meeting place between the dead and the living, we do not do this because we are historians, cavers or undertakers, but because we are people and we do it for people’s sake.”

The President of the Republic of Slovenia, Borut Pahor, who came to the ceremony on Congress Square accompanied by representatives of five major religious communities, first laid a wreath. Catholic Bishop Anton Jamnik, Evangelical Bishop Leon Novak, Islamic Mufti Nevzet Porić, Orthodox Bishop Sava, Bishop Assistant to the Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church, and Jewish Rabbi Ariel Haddad were present at the pious act of the President of the Republic.

In his opening address, Pahor said that Slovenians belong to those Central and Eastern European nations that were tested by all three totalitarianisms in the 20th century: fascism, Nazism, and communism. “Today, with this honour, we express our respect for all the victims of totalitarian and undemocratic regimes in Europe and pay tribute to all those who fought against tyranny and oppression. We are renewing our commitment to a peaceful and prosperous Europe based on values such as respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, principles of the rule of law and respect for human rights,” said Pahor, adding that the ceremony emphasises the importance of preserving the memory of the past, as without truth and memory there is no reconciliation.

He recalled that the resolution of the European Parliament, by chance, but as if it was not by chance, was adopted a couple of weeks after the Slovenian democratic public was sincerely astonished and hurt by the discovery of the Huda Jama. “According to my biased feeling, it seemed to me at the time that after the democratic changes and elections in 1990, it was the first time that a strong national consensus was formed that the state must act on this matter on a real and symbolic level. Less than half a year later, this enabled the acceptance of the so-called reconciliation legislation, which was supplemented in content in 2015 and, among other things, after almost twenty years of controversy, determined the erection of a monument to all victims of wars and war-related victims in the territory of the Republic of Slovenia with the dedicatory inscription of a commemorative nature ‘The homeland is one assigned to us all, and one life, and one death. – Oton Župančič’”, he added.

In his address, he recalled that this year marks five years since the monument to the victims of wars was erected on Congress Square, and he concluded the address by saying that, as emphasised in the resolution, European unification was initially a response to the suffering caused by two world wars and Nazi tyranny, which led to the Holocaust and the spread of totalitarian and undemocratic regimes in Central and Eastern Europe, but it was also a way of overcoming deep divisions and hostilities in Europe through cooperation, unification, ending war and ensuring democracy in Europe. “In this sense, today we laid a wreath in front of the monument, which for the sake of all this could be considered an obelisk of peace, reconciliation, and democracy and where all of us who remember the victims of all wars and all totalitarianisms can find comfort and moral satisfaction. I am grateful to the high-ranking representatives of the largest religious communities in Slovenia for joining me in this. I ask the Slovenian and European public to accept this as a sign of their sincere efforts for mutual understanding and cooperation in favour of a common and tolerant community. We express the hope that with our responsible, tolerant, and respectful actions we will build a democratic community, Slovenian and European, and do everything in our power so that, in the end, peace is permanent, and democracy is alive and vibrant – for our common good and the good of our children. Let me conclude again with the inspiring thought of Sophocles’ Antigone: ‘It is may nature to join in love, not hate.’”

On August 23rd, we mark the European Day of Remembrance for the Victims of All Totalitarian and Authoritarian Regimes, which condemns all crimes against humanity caused by totalitarian and authoritarian regimes. In 2009, the European Parliament, with its Resolution on European Consciousness and Totalitarianism, dedicated August 23rd to all victims of totalitarian and authoritarian regimes, and in 2012 the Slovenian government declared it an official day of remembrance in Slovenia as well.

The monument to all victims of wars and war-related victims was erected on Congress Square five years ago and officially opened on July 13th, 2017. By erecting it, the Republic of Slovenia follows the tradition of most European countries that have monuments or similar central memorials in memory of those who died in wars. Since then, the monument has been the central national memorial for all those who fell as soldiers of various armies in wars on our soil or died as their victims, and it is also dedicated to victims of revolutionary violence. Laying a wreath at the Monument on Congress square is a ceremonial element included in official visits of foreign leaders to the Republic of Slovenia.

Source: radio Ognjišče

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