05/31/2006, 00.00
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The Pope: May mankind reject racial hatred in memory of Auschwitz

Benedict XVI, at the general audience, retraced the steps of his trip to Poland. The motto of the visit, "Remain firm in the faith", should be for Christians a commitment to ensure that mankind will never again have to face horrors like those of the extermination camps, where "Hitler had more than six million Jews exterminated".

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – The journey to Poland, especially the memory of horrors evoked during the visit to the extermination camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau, were recalled by Benedict XVI in his first general audience since returning from Krakow.

Addressing 35,000 people in St Peter's Square, the pope thus remembered Auschwitz once again. The words he spoke today revealed the inconsistency of attempts at controversy that followed his dramatic address on Sunday in Birkenau camp. Benedict XVI explicitly mentioned six million Jews killed in the Shoah, he condemned "racial hatred" and hence anti-Semitism, reiterating that he saw the Nazism project as a bid to "eliminate God to take his place", God who instead "calls us all in Christ to build a world of justice, truth and peace" in shared fatherhood. And all Christians, he added, should feel a commitment to testify to the firmness of their faith, "to avoid that mankind of the third millennium will ever again know such horrors like those tragically evoked by the extermination camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau".

"Faced with the horror of Auschwitz – in fact – there is no other response other than the Cross of Christ: Love that descended to the depths of evil to save man at the source, where his freedom could rebel against God. Let modern humanity not forget Auschwitz and the other 'factories of death' in which the Nazi regime sought to eliminate God to take his place! Let mankind not cede to the temptation of racial hatred, which is at the root of the worst forms of anti-Semitism! May men recognize that God is the Father of all and all are called in Christ to build a world of justice, truth and peace together!"

Talking about his trip to Poland, Benedict XVI first drew particular attention to the journey made in the footsteps of the life of the "priest and bishop Karol Wojtyla". Among the steps remembered, he mentioned Wadiwice, "the place that became famous because Karol Wojtyla was born and baptized there", saying: "Visiting offered me the opportunity to thank the Lord for the gift of this tireless servant of the Gospel. The roots of his robust faith, of his humanity, so sensitive and open, of his love for beauty and truth, of his devotion to Our Lady, of his love for the Church and especially of his vocation to holiness, are in this town, where he received his initial education and formation."

Finally, recalling the concluding celebration of the visit on Sunday morning in Krakow, the pope described it as a "liturgical meeting animated by extraordinary participation of the faithful, in the very Park where the night before a meeting was held with youth. I took the opportunity to renew among the Poles the stupendous proclamation of Christian truth about man, created and redeemed by Christ; that truth that John Paul II proclaimed so many times with vigour, to encourage all to be strong in faith, hope and love."

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