2006-05-24 15:04:27

Pope Benedict in Poland in Pope John Paul II's footsteps

(May 24, 2006): Pope Benedict XVI will begin his pastoral visit to Poland on Ascension Thursday May 25. It will be the 2nd foreign trip of his Pontificate. The four day visit concluding May 28 , will evoke memories of his predecessor, as Pope Benedict will visit all the places that were central to the life and spiritual formation of Pope John Paul II, who died last year April 2, after a reign of more than 26 years. Most of the trip will take place in southern Poland.The first stop on the Pope's schedule will be Warsaw,the country's capital. Born in the south of Poland, in Wadowice, Karol Wojtyla never spent any lengthy period of time in Warsaw, but as Pope, he visited the city five times, and his first trip there is firmly engraved in the memory of those who witnessed his historic appearance. Pope Benedict will also visit the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz to underscore his commitment to carrying on Pope John Paul’s work of improving relations with Jews and fighting anti-Semitism. Vatican’s semi official newspaper L’Osservatore Romano said - “The prayers that German-born Pope Benedict will recite May 28 at the Auschwitz death camp in Poland will evoke peace and reconciliation, but also the obligation to remember what the Nazis did. While Pope 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 the leading article in the newspaper dated May 23. “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,” the newspaper emphasized. The motto of the papal trip is “Persevere in the faith”. Mons. Pawel Ptasznik – Head of the Polish Section in Vatican’s Secretariat of State said ,“As Poland becomes part of Europe, Pope Benedict’s message of conserving the faith - something which we did under the communist regime- is the most important part of the trip”.

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