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Cathedrals join faith and political leaders to mark Holocaust Memorial Day

27 January 2023

Twitter/St Edmundsbury Cathedral

Canon Matthew Vernon (centre) and the Revd Sarah Geileskey lead a special service in the peace garden of St Edmundsbury Cathedral to mark Holocaust Memorial Day on Friday

Canon Matthew Vernon (centre) and the Revd Sarah Geileskey lead a special service in the peace garden of St Edmundsbury Cathedral to mark Holocaust Me...

CATHEDRALS around the country are marking Holocaust Memorial Day, as political and faith leaders, along with survivors and local communities, come together to remember victims of genocide.

On Friday morning, the Archbishop of Canterbury wrote on social media: “The seeds of hope are contained in ordinary people who resist, who rescue and who bear witness in the face of evil, hatred and violence. This Holocaust Memorial Day, we reflect on the past and recommit ourselves to learning from it for a better future.”

Archbishop Welby had joined the Chief Rabbi, Sir Ephraim Mirvis, and politicians including Angela Rayner and Michael Gove at a small event in London on Thursday evening.

In a pre-recorded statement, the Prime Minister said: “I want to speak directly to Britain’s Holocaust survivors. Week in and week out, you have shared your testimony in schools and communities across our country. You have spoken the truth. You’ve inspired us with your courage. And you have taught us where hatred and prejudice can lead.

“It’s not enough to say thank you. I want to say more. I want to say that we have heard you that we will fight anti-Semitism and all forms of hate wherever they are found, and that we will defend the truth of what happened to the Jewish people now and for ever.’”

A service was held on Friday morning in the Peace Garden in the Abbey Gardens of St Edmundsbury Cathedral. The Sub Dean, Canon Matthew Vernon, said: “We hold an annual service for Holocaust Memorial Day because it’s important to reflect on how injustice affects people throughout generations. Genocide continues to reverberate today, and we should all feel the call to challenge discrimination in our time.”

In Exeter Cathedral, television personality and author Robert Rinder spoke, alongside psychologist Bernie Graham at a service attended by pupils from local primary schools.

Rochester Cathedral hosted a service on Thursday evening. Earlier in the day, the Bishop of Tonbridge, the Rt Revd Simon Burton-Jones, wrote that Holocaust Memorial Day “grows with importance every year”.

In a post on Twitter, Bishop Burton-Jones wrote: “It’s said antisemitism is a light sleeper. Right now it’s showered, dressed and tapping on a keyboard a vile beat from the Goebbels song book. Easy to miss, when the algorithm figures you’re nice.”

Several other cathedrals, including Chichester, Blackburn, and Durham, are holding special exhibitions on genocide and Jewish history.

In a House of Lords debate on Thursday to mark the day of remembrance, the Bishop of Carlisle, the Rt Revd James Newcome, said: “The Christian Church has not always behaved in ways that have honoured Jews — in fact, quite the opposite, as the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury made clear in a statement just last week. This is something we now deeply regret.”

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