Pope Francis 'very likely' to visit Auschwitz says Vatican

The death camp at Auschwitz with the infamous slogan, "Work makes you free".Reuters

Pope Francis is expected to visit the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz during his visit to Poland for World Youth Day in July, according to the Vatican.

Father Federico Lombardi SJ, head of the Holy See Press Office, said every Pope who has visited Kraków in the past has gone on to Auschwitz to pay their respects to the millions of Jewish people and others murdered in the Holocaust.

This included Pope Benedict, from Germany, and Pope John Paul II, from Poland.


Speaking during the presentation of a book, We were Jews: That was our only crime, by Ester and Alberto Mieli in which Alberto, a 90-year-old Holocaust survivor, relates to Ester, his granddaughter, the terrible experience of her deportation, Father Lombardi said the visit by the Pope was "highly likely".

Auschwitz is about 65 km from Kraków.

Fr Lombardi expressed "deep emotion" at the fact that International Holocaust Day could be experienced at the Vatican, with one of the few living survivors of the concentration camps. He also recalled the visits of St John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Pope Francis to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem, and the speeches of John Paul and Benedict at Auschwitz. He said he thought it would not be long before Pope Francis would also have a chance to speak there, Vatican Radio reported.

Polish President Andrzej Duda met Pope Francis in November and said then that the Pope had asked to visit Auschwitz. Duda said: "This is a cause of great joy for us, the possibility to host the pope in Poland. He asked to visit Auschwitz and to pray there for the memory of the victims."

On a visit to the synagogue in Rome this month, Pope Francis said the tragedy of the Holocaust should remind everyone of the need for the "maximum vigilance" in defending human rights.