In Poland, Pope Vows To Heal Nazi Wounds

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The New York Sun

WARSAW, Poland – Poles gave Pope Benedict XVI a warm greeting yesterday – if not the rapturous reception reserved for native son Pope John Paul II – as the German-born pontiff pledged to strive to heal painful wounds from the “tragic tyranny” of the Nazis.

Benedict made clear his trip was “no mere sentimental journey” but was intended to keep alive the goals of his friend and mentor, John Paul – German-Polish reconciliation, strengthening relations with Jews, and keeping Poland a beacon of Catholicism in secular Europe.

He drew a roar of applause at the airport as he launched into his welcoming speech – in Polish, later switching to Italian.

“I have very much wanted to make this visit to the native land and people of my beloved predecessor, the servant of God, John Paul II,” Benedict said. “I have come to follow in the footsteps of his life.”

This tour will touch on some of the most painful memories of Europe’s past, and will include a visit Sunday to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, where the Nazis killed 1.5 million people, mostly Jews.

“There I hope especially to meet the survivors of Nazi terror who come from different countries, all of whom suffered under that tragic tyranny,” Benedict said at the airport.

“Together we will pray that the wounds of the past century will heal, thanks to the remedy that God in his mercy has prescribed for us by calling us to forgive each other.”

Asked by journalists on the plane how he felt about visiting Auschwitz as a German, the 79-year-old Benedict said, “I am above all a Catholic. I must say that this is the most important point.”

The New York Sun

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