Dear brothers and sisters,
My recent pastoral visit to Poland followed in the footsteps of my predecessor, Pope John Paul II, to the cities of Warsaw and Krakow. I stopped at many places dear to the late pope: the Marian shrine of Jasna Gora, Kalwaria Zebrzidowska and the Shrine of Divine Mercy in Lagiewniki, as well as Wadowice, Karol Wojtyla's birthplace, and Wawel Cathedral, where he celebrated his first Mass. Everywhere I went, I echoed the appeal of Pope John Paul to "stand firm in the faith," to make Christ the foundation of our lives, and to bear witness to the Gospel message of man's dignity as a creature made in the image of God. At the death camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau, a place of horror and godless inhumanity, I paid homage to the victims, including over a million Jews and many Poles. Our only response to Auschwitz can be to contemplate the mystery of the cross, of a love which brings salvation by freely descending into the abyss of evil. Our world must not forget Auschwitz! We need to turn once more to the God of love, who calls us in Christ to build together a world of justice, truth and peace.
From the Italian text:
At the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp and in similar camps, Hitler had more than 6 million Jews exterminated. At Auschwitz-Birkenau approximately 150,000 Poles and tens of thousands of men and women of other nationalities also died.
May modern humanity not forget Auschwitz and the other "factories of death" where the Nazi regime attempted to eliminate God in order to take his place. May it not give in to the temptation of racial hatred, which is the origin of the worst forms of anti-Semitism. May people recognize that God is the father of all and calls us in Christ to build together a world of justice, truth and peace.
From the Spanish text:
In Auschwitz one sees clearly the magnitude of the horror that is possible when people seek to eliminate God in order to take his place. For that reason I have encouraged to all the Poles to remain firm in the faith, faithful to Christ and the Church, so that it does not lack their evangelical testimony before Europe and the world. All Christians must be committed to giving this testimony to prevent humanity of the third millennium from knowing again horrors like those tragically evoked by the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp.