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Pope Francis: Third Pope to visit Auschwitz

2016-07-28

Pope Francis will be the third Pope to visit Auschwitz, after John Paul II, who went in 1979, and Benedict XVI, in 2006.

BENEDICT XVI
"In a place like this, words fail; in the end, there can only be a dread silence - a silence which is itself a heartfelt cry to God: 'Why, Lord, did you remain silent?'

Pope Francis will honor the significance of these words.  He will not give any speeches or homilies, like his predecessors did. 

He will visit this symbol of the Holocaust in silence and prayer, like he did at the Armenian genocide memorial.

He will go to the cell where Saint Maximilian Kolbe died, and he will meet ten survivors next to the wall where prisoners were executed.

He will also stop at the Birkenau concentration camp, where the trains arrived with the prisoners who were sentenced to die in the gas chambers.

Like Benedict XVI, Pope Francis will pray next to the 23 gravestones by the crematorium. There he will meet 25 "Righteous Among the Nations”; people who risked their lives to protect Jewish people in World War II.

It will be Pope Francis' first visit to this site, but it will not be totally unfamiliar for him. He visited the Holocaust Memorial in his trip to the Holy Land, where he was visibly moved by the experience.


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