Fratelli Tutti 249: Remember The Past, For Conscience’s Sake

249. Nowadays, it is easy to be tempted to turn the page, to say that all these things happened long ago and we should look to the future. For God’s sake, no! We can never move forward without remembering the past; we do not progress without an honest and unclouded memory.

This is an important principle: to remember because the human conscience needs it. This is a mark of virtue, of godliness, of civilization:

We need to “keep alive the flame of collective conscience, bearing witness to succeeding generations to the horror of what happened”, because that witness “awakens and preserves the memory of the victims, so that the conscience of humanity may rise up in the face of every desire for dominance and destruction”.[Message for the 2020 World Day of Peace(8 December 2019), 2: L’Osservatore Romano, 13 December 2019, p. 8]

A witness of–not victims, necessarily–survivors:

The victims themselves – individuals, social groups or nations – need to do so, lest they succumb to the mindset that leads to justifying reprisals and every kind of violence in the name of the great evil endured. For this reason, I think not only of the need to remember the atrocities, but also all those who, amid such great inhumanity and corruption, retained their dignity and, with gestures small or large, chose the part of solidarity, forgiveness and fraternity. To remember goodness is also a healthy thing.

Christians remember the Shoah for the great witness of some few who interceded for the murdered millions. We can also admire the courage and stamina of other witnesses like Anne Frank. I wonder how Afghanistan will be remembered.

All citations of Fratelli Tutti (which can be found on this link) are © Copyright – Libreria Editrice Vaticana.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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