Pope wants silence, not speech, during his Auschwitz visit

Pope Francis has cancelled his planned speech at the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp this month, saying he would prefer silence.

Francis is scheduled to visit the camp in Poland on July 29.

During World War II, 1.1 million people were killed by the Nazis at Auschwitz-Birkenau.

Francis is in Poland from July 27-31, primarily for the World Youth Day celebrations.

On the papal plane flying back from Armenia last month, the Pope spoke about his planned visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau.

“I would like to go to that place of horror without speeches, without crowds – only the few people necessary,” he said.

“Alone, enter, pray. And may the Lord give me the grace to cry.”

The Pope noted he had once visited a World War I memorial in Italy and had not spoken.

Fr Federico Lombardi, SJ, the Vatican’s press spokesman, confirmed on June 30 that the official programme for the Auschwitz-Birkenau visit had been changed.

Fr Lombardi said the Pope would not give a speech at the death camp.

The Vatican’s schedule for the Pope’s originally had him giving a speech at the international monument at Birkenau.

Francis’s predecessors St John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI delivered speeches there.

Fr Lombardi noted that Francis had previously spoken about the horror of the Holocaust.

Pope Francis visited the Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem in Israel in 2014.

He met six survivors of Nazi camps, kissing their hands in a sign of deference and recognition of their suffering.

Speaking of the atrocity of the Holocaust, Francis asked how could human beings have sunk so horribly low?

In his speech at Yad Vashem, he prayed: “Grant us the grace to be ashamed of what we men have done, to be ashamed of this massive idolatry, of having despised and destroyed our own flesh which you formed from the earth, to which you gave life with your own breath of life.”

“Never again, Lord, never again!”


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