Pope Francis to visit Auschwitz in July

March 12, 2016  

Pope Francis will visit the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp as part of his visit to Poland in July when he will chair World Youth Day, organizers announced Saturday, according to AFP.

He will visit the former Nazi death camp in southern Poland on July 29, on the third day of his visit to the country, according to the head of the KAI Catholic news agency, Marcin Przeciszewski.

Rumors of the pope’s scheduled visit to Auschwitz have been circulating for several months, but Saturday is the first official confirmation.

Reports of the Pope’s desire to visit Auschwitz surfaced in November, when Polish President Andrzej Duda said following a meeting with the Pope that he asked to visit the Nazi death camp and pray for the memory of the millions murdered in the Holocaust.

Two of the pope’s predecessors also visited the camp, John Paul II – himself Polish – in 1979 and Benedict XVI in 2006.

Some 1.1 million people, including a million Jews from across Europe, were killed by Nazi Germany at the camp from 1940 to 1945. The other victims were mostly non-Jewish Poles, gypsies and Soviet prisoners.

Pope Francis will spend a total of five days in Poland, arriving on July 27 and concluding his visit on July 31, according to AFP.

The pontiff will also meet senior Polish officials including President Duda in his role as the Vatican’s head of state.

Pope Francis visited Rome’s synagogue in January, where he said the Holocaust, in which some six million Jews were killed, should remind everyone of the need for the “maximum vigilance” in the defense of human rights.

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