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Pope to pray at Auschwitz death camp


The prayers that Pope Benedict will recite on Sunday at the Auschwitz death camp in Poland will evoke peace and reconciliation, but also the obligation to remember what the Nazis did.

According to Catholic News Service, while John Paul II made an important visit to Auschwitz in 1979 and paid homage to the 6 million Jews murdered by the Nazis, Pope Benedict's visit will be "something more," said Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano.

"After 60 years the German language will resound again in the camp, not to give death orders, but to raise to God a prayer for peace, reconciliation, love and hope," said the lead article in two pages devoted to the Auschwitz visit.

The newspaper said the papal visit is an affirmation that no one can ignore or forget "the terrible tragedy" that took place in Auschwitz and the other Nazi camps.

Catholic News Agency reports that the visit to Auschwitz is part of Benedict XVI's apostolic trip to Poland to pay homage to his predecessor John Paul II.

At the end of his general audience yesterday in St Peter's Square, the Pope mentioned his trip to Poland, "homeland of the beloved John Paul II." There, he said, "I will visit the places of his life and of his priestly and episcopal ministry."

After giving thanks to God for "the opportunity of fulfilling a desire I have long held in my heart," the Pope invited those present "to accompany me with your prayers on this apostolic trip which I undertake with great hope, and which I entrust to the Virgin Mary, so venerated in Poland."

"May she guide my steps that I may confirm the beloved Catholic community of Poland in the faith, encouraging it to face the challenges of the present time with incisive evangelical action," the Pope declared before the faithful present at St Peter's Square.

"May Mary," he concluded, "ensure that the entire nation is granted a renewed springtime of faith and civil progress, while conserving the memory of my great predecessor."

The Pope is expected to leave the Vatican today and his trip will be the second of his pontificate following last August's visit to Germany. In Poland, he will visit Warsaw, Czestochowa, Krakow, Wadowice, Kalwaria Zebrzydowska, and Auschwitz.


SOURCE
Vatican newspaper says pope's prayers at death camp will evoke peace (Catholic News Service 23/5/06)
Pope calls for prayers for forthcoming trip to Poland (Catholic News Agency 24/5/06)
Holy See unveils new details about Apostolic visit to Poland starting tomorrow (Catholic News Agency 24/5/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Pope Benedict XVI: Apostolic Journey to Poland

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25 May 2006