Racism is a sin - Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, the Vatican's Permanent Observer to the UN Office in Geneva told the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Related Intolerance," in Durban, South Africa on Monday. The Archbishop said racism was "fundamentally a lie, a concept deliberately invented to create division in humanity." He said: "This conference must be about the truth: the truth concerning human dignity, the truth concerning the fundamental unity of the human family. This is a conference about the ethical foundations of a new world community." He said: "The Holy See recognizes "the irreplaceable contribution which the United Nations family has made and is making in addressing inequality and exclusion in today's world. This conference, however, will hopefully mark a new and significant step in the efforts of the community of nations. "The eradication of racism is not an easy process. It requires that we examine the reality of history, not in order to be trapped in the past, but to be able to begin honestly to construct a different future. "Pope John Paul II has noted: 'One cannot remain a prisoner of the past: individuals and peoples need a sort of 'healing of memories'. For this healing it is necessary that 'we honestly appraise our personal, community and national history and admit those less noble aspects which have contributed to the marginalization of today, but in such a way as to reinforce our desire to make the era of globalization an era of encounter, inclusion and solidarity." Archbishop Martin said the phenomenon of refugees and asylum seekers can be one which "generates prosperity, helps reduce global inequalities and enhances encounter among peoples and cultures" But he pointed out: "today the migrant, especially one who comes from a different cultural background, can easily become the object of racial discrimination, of intolerance, of exploitation and of violence." Education has a fundamental role in combating racism, he said. "Such education must begin in the family. The family must be the first school in which the roots of racist behaviour are firmly rejected." He said: "The media also has a special responsibility "to avoid any provocation of racist sentiments." The Archbishop said Pope John Paul II recently made an appeal to all believers, noting that "we cannot truly call on God, the father of all, if we refuse to treat in a brotherly way any person, created in the image of God." "True religious belief is absolutely incompatible with racist attitudes and racist practices." The Archbishop said he hoped one of the fruits of the conference would be be the beginnings of a new broad, international cooperation between governments, civil society, religious groups and the mass media, as well as farseeing and courageous individuals, to work together to help construct a vision of humankind, which truly lives in unity. "This is, in fact, God's design for the human family," he concluded.
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