German-born Pope Benedict, head of the world’s largest church, asked on Sunday where God was when 1.5 million people, mostly Jews, died at the former Nazi death camp at Auschwitz.
Speaking at the Birkenau section of the camp, near where Jews were led from trains to be gassed and cremated, the head of the Roman Catholic Church said it was almost impossible to speak in “This place of horror,” especially as a German Pope.
Pope enters death camp (Photo: Reuters)
“In a place like this, words fail. In the end, there can only be a dread silence - a silence which is itself a heartfelt cry to God: Why, Lord, did you remain silent? How could you tolerate all this?” He said in a speech delivered in Italian.
“Our silence becomes in turn a plea for forgiveness and reconciliation, a plea to the living God never to let this happen again,” He said at the end of a four-day visit to Poland.
The Auschwitz complex in Nazi-occupied Poland was a linchpin in Adolf Hitler’s “Final Solution” To wipe out European Jewry during World War Two. Six million Jews perished before Allied forces defeated Nazi Germany and liberated the camps.
The Roman Catholic Church is the largest single church in the world with 1.1 billion members, accounting for just over half of the world’s two billion Christians.