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00Thursday, June 1, 2006 2:23 AM
I have picked up news items published in the Polish site on the Pope's visit to fill up some stories we did not see
in the
regular reports
Benedict XVI Celebrates Holy Mass
in Palace of Archbishops of Cracow

At 7.30 in the morning Pope Benedict XVI celebrated Holy Mass in the private chapel of the House of the Archbishops
of Cracow, the very chapel in which Karol Wojtyla was ordained to the priesthood in 1946.

The Pope was accompanied by five cardinals, the religious sisters who used to attend on John Paul II and other
members of Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz’s household.

The Holy Mass in the chapel at 3 Franciszkanska Street in Cracow was concelebrated with the Pontiff by
the following cardinals: Stanislaw Dziwisz, Angelo Sodano, Zenon Grocholewski, Walter Kasper, and the Primate
of Poland Józef Glemp. Other concelebrants included
the auxiliary bishops of the Archdiocese of Cracow, Józef Guzdek and Jan Zajac.

The Holy Mass has a solemn and meditative character, KAI was told by Bishop Guzdek. There was no homily but
a prolonged moment of absolute silence, during which Benedict XVI remained engrossed in prayer.

Like the other Holy Masses during the papal pilgrimage to Poland, the liturgy was celebrated in Latin and Polish.
A choir composed of seminarians from the Cracow Seminary was signing during the Holy Mass.

The first reading, an account from the Acts of the Apostles on the appointment of bishops, was read out in Polish.
The Gospel pericope, read out in Latin, referred to the Good Shepherd, who will not leave his sheep (Jn 10:12-16).

Benedict XVI in Wadowice,
John Paul II’s Hometown

In the morning Benedict XVI paid a visit to Wadowice, the hometown of John Paul II. Addressing the congregation
gathered in the Wadowice market square, he disclosed he wanted to come to Wadowice to pray together with the town’s

inhabitants for the glory of the altars for the Polish Pope. The Pope was enthusiastically welcomed by 20,000 people;
among them there were representatives of the German town of Marktl am Inn, the hometown of Benedict XVI.

Prior to the entrance to the Church, the Pope was greeted with bread and salt by the town mayor, Ms. Ewa Filipiak.
Benedict XVI prayed before the altar of the Wadowice Basilica and then in front of the baptismal font at which
Karol Wojtyla was christened. Benedict XVI then entered his signature in the commemorative book of the Basilica,
which also bears signatures of John Paul II.

Afterwards the Pope visited the home of Karol Wojtyla, currently his Museum, where he was greeted by
Sr. Magdalena Strzelecka from the Congregation of the Sisters of Nazareth, who for close to 10 years has been
the curator of the Museum, and by children in traditional costumes from the Cracow area. The Pontiff proceeded
through the successive rooms of the house and listened to the guided tour offered by the sister curator.
Then the Pope signed a special benediction for all who visit the home of John Paul II and entered his signature
in the Museum’s commemorative book.

Having left the home of Karol Wojtyla, Benedict XVI met with the residents of the town. "Welcome," "We love you,"
and "Benedetto" were the welcome cheers of 20,000 people gathered in the market square in Wadowice when the Pope appeared on a special podium. A big canvas was hung
on one of the houses with an inscription in Polish and Italian reading: "Saint Now. John Paul II the Great. Wadowice
calls for it."

Welcoming the Pope, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz said: "Your arrival in Wadowice adds to the history of Karol Wojtyla."
The Metropolitan of Cracow delivered his welcome address first in Italian and then in Polish. "Your presence here
strengthens our faith. It enhances our sense of
belonging to the community of the People of God. It strengthens us on the way to the house of the Father," said Cardinal Dziwisz.

In his address, whose inception and final section was delivered by him in Polish, Benedict XVI expressed his thankfulness
to God for the pontificate of John Paul II. He likewise revealed that he wanted to come to Wadowice to pray
together with the town’s inhabitants for the beatification of the Polish Pope.

Quoting Pope John Paul II’s words related to the baptismal font in Wadowice at which the Polish Pope was christened,
Benedict XVI observed that "The way of an authentically Christian life equals faithfulness to the promises
of holy Baptism." He also called John Paul II a witness to the faith in the observance of your baptismal promises.

He underlined the fact the John Paul II’s love for the Church was born precisely in the Wadowice parish.
"In it he experienced the sacramental life, evangelisation and the formation of a mature faith," he explained.
Therefore Benedict XVI called on the Polish Episcopate during their "ad limina Apostolorum" visit to take every effort
that the Polish parish might be truly an "ecclesial community" and a "family of the Church."

Bidden an enthusiastic farewell by 20,000 town residents, Benedict XVI left Wadowice. Prior to the departure
from the market square the Pope donated a chasuble to the town and the local Basilica. Madame Mayor of Wadowice,
Ewa Filipiak, presented Benedict XVI with a painting representing John Paul II praying in the window of
his home in Wadowice.

When Benedict XVI was leaving the special podium, the congregation in the market square were singing
the song "Abba, Ojcze!" and then John Paul II’s favourite song, "The Barge." The Pope entered his limousine
to the cheers of the crowd and set out for Kalwaria Zebrzydowska, some 13 kilometres away.
Sorry to leave it like this - after I filled in the whole space with all the news items of the day, and
I pressed Rispondi, I got a message that I was already logged out and my changes were not saved, so I have
to rebuild everything...


youth rally

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 01/06/2006 3.20]

00Thursday, June 1, 2006 11:42 AM
Warsaw report part 1
Finally I'm back in Norway and here's the promised report:

I arrived in Warsaw 24 May in the late evening. Next day in the morning, around 9am, after having travelled by bus and by foot (many streets were already closed), I placed myself along the street leading from the airport to the city. People began to gather. There was many policemen and gendarmes (quite joyous, I must say) already present. Since we had at least two hours before the Holy Father would pass by, we entertained ourselves by chatting, singing and disturbing the policemen [SM=x40791]

We heard the Holy Father's plane landing at 11am (cheers)
Excitement began to grow.

Then finally something began to happen. Police cars drove before us, followed by a priest, standing in an open jeep, with a megaphone in his hand, announcing: "The Holy Father will arrive in 10 minutes. Please keep your places. No more running across the street. (He smiled and laughed). Yes, I am talking to you too, sir. Make the sign of cross and pray for a good weather." (Everybody laughed)

A then the excitement reached it's top: Pope Benedict, in his papamobile, slowly (for us it lasted only seconds) drove in front of us. (Screams, laughs, general crazyness). I thought I should have THREE hands: two to hold my cameras and one to wave the papal flag.

After some junk food meal (I know, not healthy) I moved to the city centre to get known with the Pilsudski Square (I don't know Warsaw very well). There were many people walking by, staring at the huge cross over the altar, exchanging their thoughts and memories, taking pictures.

I strolled towards the Old Town.

I believe this is the famous poster with a kissing girl. You can see a portrait of the late Primate Card. Wyszynski

The second time I saw our Benedict, was in front of the Presidental Palace. It was quite by accident that I was there- I was just wandering along the streets, when I noticed a gathering crowd. My Polish genes acted immidiately: where there is a crowd, there must be something interesting going on. I placed myself in front of the Palace and waited, singing together with nuns who made a real show that afternoon - leading the chant (of course) "Be-nedetto" and, in rough translation, "We have the new one, we have Benedict XVI" (on melody of "Guantanamera"), "Please come to us at last, Alleluja!" (after 2 hours of waiting). After an hour or so our Holy Father arrived, this time by a limousine, so I didn't take any fancy pictures. (I took some with my long zoom analog camera, have to wait for the results). There was a loud buzz, when a security guy DARED to stop his big car in front of us interrupting our view. Scared, he quickly moved the car.

Since it was rather late and my feet already screamed, I returned "home" to my friend's appartment. We spent the remaining evening and even part of the night talking, talking, talking... And watching tv :)

Next part will come when I get more time, I'm drowning in my work activities [SM=g27828]

[Modificato da .Sue. 01/06/2006 12.55]

00Thursday, June 1, 2006 1:27 PM

Sue, thanks for the great photos and diary of your trip. Hurry and catch up with your work. I want to know what happens next in your story. That is so wonderful you got to see Papa despite all the crowds.

00Thursday, June 1, 2006 8:47 PM
Thank you Yvonne and Sue
It's wonderful to get the personal accounts and pictures. They add another dimension to the story. Those four days were really special, to be able to see so much of the Holy Father. It gave me great choy to see how Papa was embraced by the Polish people.
00Friday, June 2, 2006 12:02 AM
Willow, I agree 100%. One of the blessings for our forum certainly is that we have our Polish friends who contribute so much with their enthusiasm and in this case, were eyewitnesses themselves. Thank you, girls (including Tetras, who posted a number of news pictures from onet.pl almost immediately in the main forum). And of course, Tomasso - your impressions from all your TV-watching of those four days will be most welcome!
00Friday, June 2, 2006 3:56 PM
Warsaw report part 2
The next day, 26 May, was the Big Day. I got up at 4:30am, took the first tram to the city centre and at 5:30am I began to make my way through the crowds storming Pilsudski Square. As it showed (and as I had feared) I was too late to get any good (first row) place. Some pilgrims were at the square at 3 am or even earlier. Can you imagine!? I put up myself among the Belorussian pilgrims, many of them were of Polish origins. My sector, C2, was totally international, with people from Lithuania, Belorussia, Ukraine, Slavakia, Czech Republic, Germany, England, Norway (that's me! [SM=x40791] ), New Zealand (!) and some other rather exotic spots which I don't remember. Before the Mass somebody had read out those places - Yvonne, do you remember the other countries mentioned?

I didn't even dare to look for sector D4 and Yvonne, since I was alone and wanted to keep my place. But I knew she was there. Before 8:30am, when the sectors were to be closed, there were so many people that it was difficult to sit. And it rained, most of the time not very heavy, sometimes it teemed, all in all enough to get everybody wet. I stayed relatively dry thanks to my rain-jacket and rain-trousers, but my rucksack was completely wet. I just managed to protect my cameras. I watched all those people, including me, with bowed heads to protect their faces, covered with their raincoats and pieces of foil, many of them tired after all-night trip, wanting to see and hear our Benedict.

Towards the D4 sector, where Yvonne was. Short pause during the rain.

Shortly before the Mass we started to practice our responses to the Holy Father, especially the Latin ones. (We are not much used to use Latin in Poland, unfortunately). The Mass was to said in Polish and Latin.

And finally we heard the roar of the crowd: Pope Benedict was aproaching us in his papamoblie, smiling and waving to . I jumped up on my little tourist stool, found some balance (THAT wasn't easy) and press the shutter of my camera, shouting wildly. Of course everybody did the same thing, exept maybe for jumping on stools - luckily for me - so I managed to take some usable pictures.

After this wave of excitement I tried to calm down a little (almost impossible), since the Mass was about to start. Then the entrance song sounded, those yet sitting, stand up and after a while we heard a soft voice with a little funny accent, saying: "W imie Ojca i Syna i Ducha Swietego!" ("In the name of the Father..."). YES! Uuuiiii! Ohhhhhh! Uuuiiii!! Oh, pull yourself together! Pleease...(All that running through my head in a second). Eventually I managed to answer to the Holy Father "Amen!"

Then the Primate, Card. Glemp said words of welcome, mentioning in a funny way the rain "Oh, it's only a May drizzle. We endure it!" Everybody laughed.
Since I wanted to focus totally on Pope's homily and the Mass, I didn't take any pictures - with exeption of a short recording of Benedict's soft voice when he read the Italian part of the homily. The file is too big to put it on the forum. If you want it and I find a way to convert it or extract sound from it, I will put it later.

I didn't see, luckily, what happened after the Mass, when Holy Father almost escaped his bodyguards and mingled with the crowd. When I watched it later on tv, I almost had a heart attack. I'm rather young, so I survived. But PLEASE, Holy Father, be careful!! And they say he's a man who sticks to the schedule and doesn't like to surprise people!

And it was over. So soon! The time has flown by so quickly. What comforted me was the fact that is was just a beginning. There would be meetings at Jasna Gora, Krakow, Auschwitz...

As I began to make my way through the throng rather quickly (experience gained during past, also crowdy, meetings with JP2) I spotted dark-skinned nuns (rather not from Poland [SM=g27828] ) and people from Asia (Vietnam maybe?).

I was also told down (in Norwegian!) by a Byelorussian, since I had attached Norwegian and Papal flags to my rucksack. That was a great surprise. We chatted a little while, exchaning our feelings. And then I run to get some transport to the aiport, I had a scheduled flight to Gdansk. (May 26 is the Mother Day in Poland. I wanted to make my Mom a surprise.)

I am soooo happy that I decided to make this trip to Poland. I could watch all the events live or on tv and feel this incredible atmosphere of feast and solemnity at the same time.

00Friday, June 2, 2006 4:22 PM
Some of you asked about amount of people present at Pilsudski Square. I believe 300 000 is close to reality (though I honestly don't know how many people without tickets gathered around). The very square can accomodate 100 000 (and that many tickets was distributed). Some journalists underline that in 1979, with JP2, much more people gathered. But they forget that the square is much smaller now, surrounded by new buildings. In 1979 it could accomodate 300 000.

Besides I think that the Mass in Warsaw was a kind of a warm-up so to speak, both for the Pope and the people. We had to defeat our shyness. But the next events and days showed clearly that pope Benedict won our hearts.

I discussed it also with my relatives and friends, some of them non-believers, and after this trip to Poland they began to have at least warm feelings for the Pope (citing non-believers: "He's such a sweet, good, cute man!"). And Catholics went crazy about Benedict [SM=x40791] All the stereotypes about Joseph Ratzinger, propagated by some media, has been ovethrown. At last! It was really painful to read and hear all this rubbish about Papa.

He was MY Pope from the very beginning and from now on he will be OUR Pope.

Later I can post first pages of Polish newspapers commenting the visit. Maybe the rest of the "Polish" team (I mean Yvonne and Tomasso) will also participate.
00Friday, June 2, 2006 4:27 PM

Thanks so much, Sue, for Part 2. It is great for us to be able to catch the excitement of the Warsaw experience even second-hand. I didn't realize that Papa mingled with the crowd at the end of Mass. That was a very risky thing for him to do, not necessarily because that adoring crowd would want to do him harm but just because in their eagerness to get near him, he could have gotten crushed. It seems that no matter how much planning goes into one of these trips, somehow people always end up able to get past his security and up close to him. So your mother lives in Gdansk. Did you know Yvonne lives there too? Small world.

00Friday, June 2, 2006 4:40 PM
This is how it looked:

The eagerness to get near him is absolutely understandable [SM=x40791]
But it did look a little scary.

You must be kidding! Yvonne is from Gdansk? Small world indeed [SM=x40799]
00Friday, June 2, 2006 5:03 PM

Boy, he really was surrounded by that crowd. The same thing happened at the end of World Youth Day when he was trying to get back to his car after the final Mass. The crowd was pushing in so hard against the security men surrounding him that he was getting jostled when the security guys were being pushed backward against him. Regarding our small world, my father's parents are from Lublin so I experienced some patriotic pride at a distance at the warm Polish welcome Papa got.
00Friday, June 2, 2006 7:24 PM
I posed this earlier in NEWS ABOUT BENEDICT, but it obviously also belongs to this thread. John Allen's after-thoughts on what the Pope showed the world during the Polish visit are on his Word from Rome for 6/2/06

One thing about Benedict XVI which, by now, ought to be abundantly clear is that he is very much his own man. As I have written before, this is not a "PC" pope. He does not feel constrained by other people's expectations.

It's not that Benedict is an innovator. In fact, his exercise of the papal office is in many ways far more traditional than that of his predecessor, John Paul II, who made a career out of shattering antique norms. (Being pope, for example, used to mean never having to say you're sorry, while John Paul apologized repeatedly for all manner of past failings of the church).

Yet at 79, with nothing left to prove, never facing reelection, and carrying an enormous burden he never sought, Benedict exhibits a remarkable interior freedom by the standards of major world leaders.

Cultural norms of the Vatican, for example, dictated that an American could not become prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, yet Cardinal William Levada is there anyway.

Vatican diplomatic logic held that Joseph Zen of Hong Kong should not be made a cardinal in order to avoid irritating the Chinese, since Zen is the biggest thorn in their side on the religious freedom issue, yet Zen is now wearing the scarlet.

Powerful political pressures suggested delay or inaction on the case of Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado, founder of the Legionaries of Christ, yet Benedict nevertheless imposed sanctions.

As if it were needed, further proof of the point came during Benedict's Sunday visit to Auschwitz.

When a prominent German Catholic visits Auschwitz, there's a certain script that person is expected to follow. One should acknowledge German complicity in the Holocaust, and in some sense ask forgiveness; pledge to fight modern anti-Semitism; and avoid opening old wounds, such as controversies over Edith Stein or the presence of a Carmelite convent near Auschwitz.

On Sunday, Benedict utterly disregarded the script -- he defended virtuous Germans who resisted the Nazis, ignored the issue of anti-Semitism, and praised both Stein and the Carmelites.

Benedict did so, at least in his own mind, because he had a deeper point to make. He came to say that Auschwitz represents the most terrifying example of a more general tendency in human psychology, which is the desire to slay God as the final limit on human power.

Either we see the world as a gift from God, Benedict suggested, with a moral law that regulates what we can do to one another, or the only reality is human power. If that's the world, Benedict argued, sooner or later it ends in Auschwitz -- as well as Rwanda, Bosnia, and all the other monuments to arrogance and hatred that mar human history.

That's the message Benedict wanted to deliver, and both his greatest strength and his Achille's heel are that nothing on earth was going to stop him from doing so.

From a communications point of view, the pope's Achille's heel is that by refusing to satisfy prevailing expectations, Benedict can sometimes send the wrong signal to people who, quite naturally, interpret his words and deeds through the prism of those expectations.

Thus by neglecting to say anything about anti-Semitism, and by avoiding the complicity of ordinary Germans, Benedict seemed to some observers to be "rolling back" post-Second Vatican Council gains in the Catholic church on relations with Judaism and the church's capacity for self-criticism.

"It's symbolically important that Pope Benedict went to Auschwitz, but I was expecting a different speech," said Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League, noting that the pope did not expressly condemn anti-Semitism.

"At Auschwitz, of all places, Benedict might have referred to the biblical and Catholic roots of European anti-Semitism," Oliver Kamm wrote in The Times of London. "He preferred to concentrate on the heroism of Catholic witnesses against Nazism. The picture he gave was thereby highly misleading."

Perhaps the most intemperate comment came from Sever Plocker in Ynetnews.

"Pope Benedict XVI's visit to Auschwitz was a historical, human and moral failure," Plocker wrote afterwards. "He arrived in a black, armored, German car, gave an objectionable speech filled with smooth words like 'reconciliation' and 'understanding,' prayed to Jesus, failed to ask forgiveness for the crimes committed by his people, and got back in his black, armored, German car and drove back to Rome."

"The visit was extraneous, annoying and infuriating. The German pope failed to do the most basic thing he should have done at Auschwitz: He failed to kneel next to the ovens, look to the blue skies of the Auschwitz afternoon and ask forgiveness for the murder of six million Jews, in the name of German or the German Catholic church."

Privately, Israeli sources made it clear on Monday that they were disappointed in several aspects of Benedict's Auschwitz visit.

Vatican sources strenuously rejected suggestions that Benedict's "silence" on anti-Semitism should be read as a step backwards in papal leadership on the issue.

In his Wednesday General Audience, Benedict spelled out what he left unsaid on Sunday:

"Auschwitz must not be forgotten, and the other 'factories of death' in which the Nazi regime tried to eliminate God in order to take his place!" the pope said. "We must not cede to the temptation of racial hatred, which is at the origins of the worst forms of anti-Semitism!"

With respect to Plocker's comments, it's true that a black car dropped the pope off outside the famous Arbeit Macht Frei, but he walked on foot through the gate and down the main lane of the camp in order to arrive at the Wall of Death, keeping his entourage at a healthy distance behind. After praying before the wall, he moved slowly down a line of survivors, hearing their stories and, in the case of one Jewish survivor, exchanging kisses on the cheek.

Perhaps a bit like Kennedy's famous debate with Nixon, people who saw Benedict's visit on television probably had a more positive impression that those who simply read the text -- because in the context of his body language, facial gestures, and the time he took with each person he met, it seemed clear Benedict was moved by the experience.

* * *

I had the honor on Wednesday of having lunch with Jerzy and Irene Kluger. I met Jerzy Kluger at Auschwitz on Sunday during the visit of Benedict XVI. Now 84, Kluger is famous as the Jewish boyhood friend of Karol Wojtyla in Wadowice, Poland, and the two renewed their friendship when "Lolek," as friends called Wojtyla, became archbishop of Krakow and later Pope John Paul II.

On the subject of Benedict XVI's speech at Auschwitz, Kluger expressed the view that the pope had said virtually everything he could, and that it's important to understand the Polish context of the visit. Poles, he said, are sensitive that the undeniable decimation of Jews under the Nazis not obscure their own suffering. At Auschwitz, for example, 150,000 Poles perished along with one million Jews.

In that setting, he said, it would be difficult for the pope to discuss anti-Semitism without also commemorating Polish losses, and this perhaps would have distracted from the focus of his speech. Moreover, Kluger said, the mere fact of Benedict's presence in Auschwitz spoke volumes.

At the same time, Kluger, who lost his mother and sister in Auschwitz, said it would have been better had Benedict's reference to anti-Semitism during the Wednesday General Audience been included in the Sunday text.

Most of our lunch, however, had little to do with contemporary papal politics. Instead, the Klugers regaled me with anecdotes involving their good friend Karol Wojtyla....

The rest of this item on Kluger I will post in the John Paul section. Allen then goes on to discuss the 'success'' of the Polish trip and the Pope's next big event- his Pentecost encounter with church movements on June 3.


Pressed for immediate assessments, many observers initially judge the success or failure of papal trips by crowd size. Applying that standard, one would have to say Benedict did well in Poland. He drew 300,000 on a cold and rainy day in Warsaw, a half-million at Czestochowa, and more than a million for his final Mass at Blonia Park in Krakow.

While these were not quite the throngs that flocked to John Paul II, the crowds were nevertheless large and enthusiastic, and seemed to genuinely like the new pope.

Yet from a certain point of view, a pope drawing a big crowd in Poland is a bit like "dog bites man" … it would only be news if the opposite were the case.

Benedict's aim wasn't to demonstrate through crowd size that Catholicism is still alive in Poland, something that even five minutes in the country is enough to make clear. His deeper aspiration was to convince Poles to carry their Catholic heritage into the construction of the new Europe, to assume a leadership role in forging a Europe respectful of its Christian roots.

Whether the trip succeeded on that level cannot be assessed in any immediate fashion, and if the record of similar appeals from John Paul is any indication, the jury may be out for quite some time.
00Friday, June 2, 2006 11:30 PM
The Pope's visit to Auschwitz continues to resonate and will certainly be grist for more stories from the media in the coming days. Here are three from the Italian press which appeared at different times.

First from yesterday's issue of Osservatore Romano:

The Pope's face
spoke volumes

“There are messages that are not conveyed by words – they are entrusted to gestures that may be simple but have strong impact.”

The Vatican newspaper, in reviewing the Pope’s trip to Poland, defends the Pope from criticisms to the discourse he made in Auschwitz-Birkenau.

“The Pope’s face spoke volumes and conveyed strong emotion” – this was the title for the newspaper’s commentary:

“The Pope did much through such gestures during his pilgrimage to the extermination camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau. Gestures which anticipated and gave added value to the discourse that the Pope later delivered.

“We can therefore truthfully say that his encounter with sorrow and with horror, of which those places remain as tragic symbols, was modulated through gestures and words, both important in order to fully understand the spirit with which the Pope undertook the last stage of his journey to Poland.

“And so, there was Benedict XVI who walked alone through the gate of Auschwitz (everybody else stayed back). He was focused, meditative. One could sense he felt the whole weight of the evil which the place evokes. A weight that is oppressive for every man and for every Christian.

“And the Pope, who comes from Germany, through that singular solo initiative, seemed to have taken on the weight, as truly the alter Christus, vicar of Christ, who feels and takes upon himself the sins of the world.

“It was a perception that gained with every succeeding step – at the Wall of Death, at block 11, and the dungeon where St. Maximilian Kolbe met his death.

“Meanwhile – as everyone could not fail to note – the rain stopped, and a rainbow appeared, many taking this as a sign of hope that is entrusted to our hands and inspires us, as the Pope says, “to recognize – always and everywhere – evil as evil, and to reject it.”

From Corriere della Sera yesterday:

The Pope and anti-Semitism:
“Never give in to racial hatred’

By Luigi Accatoli

VATICAN CITY – The Pope recalled to his Auschwitz visit and replied to some criticism he received: he cited “more than 6 million Jews’ exterminated by Hitler, said the ‘Nazi regime’ was responsible for Auschwitz and other ‘factories of death,’, made explicit reference to ‘anti-Semitism’ arising from ‘racial hatred’ and called on humanity to guard against it.

Thus Benedict XVI indirectly answered criticisms of his Auschwitz discourse at the general audience on Wednesday. He dedicated his usual catechetical hour to a narration of his four days in Poland (May 25-28) which culminated in that visit to Auschwitz last Sunday. It was evident he wished to cut short the objections that he had not specifically mentioned Nazism, anti-Semitism and 6 million Jewish dead.

He said Christians are duty-bound to render their own ‘evangelical testimony’ to prevent “mankind in the third millennium from knowing horrors similar to those evoked” by Auschwitz.

“In Auschwitz-Birkenau, as in other similar camps, “ he said, “Hitler ordered the extermination of six million Jews. At Auschwitz-Birkenau, some 150,000 Poles also died, along with tens of thousands of other men and women of different nationalities.

“But to confront the horror of Auschwitz, there is no other answer but the Cross of Christ – love descended to the very abyss of evil to save man at the root, there where his freedom could make him rebel against God.”

“Let not humanity today forget Auschwitz and the other factories of death,” he concluded, “in which the Nazi regime sought to eliminate God in order to take His place! Do not give in to the temptation of racial hatred, which is at the origin of the worst kinds of anti-Semitism.”

Cardinal Kasper
speaks out for the Pope

Meanwhile, a passionate defense of the Pope’s discourse in Auschwitz was made Wednesday afternoon by German Cardinal Walter Kasper, who spoke to journalists during the opening of a bookstore on Via della Conciliazione.

“A German Pope who goes to Auschwitz must walk a very very difficult path. I am German, too, and whoever saw his face in those moments will understand what I mean. To even make a speech in that place was very difficult to him; he perhaps would have preferred to be silent but he could not do that. ..Therefore the important thing is what he said, not what he did not say.”

He continued: “The Pope did not deliver the address as a politician who must fulfill the expectations of most people. He posed the most profound question, about the silence of God, which has been the question for many Jews, and that is where he left it. It was an extraordinary speech of the highest level.”

And from Avvenire, the Italian bishops' newspaper, the first account by their correspondent who covered the event:

Living memory:
The Pope at Auschwitz -
"Never again"

By Salvatore Mazza

Everything happened in the space of a few minutes. Not more than five. The Pope’s arrival, a large white umbrella protecting him from the rain. The downpour dominating an unreal silence.

And he- slowly he stopped at each of 22 stone slabs which, in as many languages, tell the story of the same horror. Then the wind picked up, the clouds opened up and the sun came out. The rain stopped, the white umbrella was withdrawn.

And now the Pope is by himself, in front of those memorials. Over his shoulder, from the west, a rainbow starts to show itself across the grey sky that turned blue fast.

The place where all this happened is the long-inactive railway of the concentration camp at Birkenau. There, where the train cars with their weight of human beings stopped to unload them. The doors opened and the deportees came out to be lined up and examined.

It was here where Dr. Mengele assiduously sought out subjects for his horrific experiments. Where families were broken up. Where the first column – the weak, the children, the aged – were sent directly to the showers with Zyklon-B, to death, to the crematorium. Where the second column walked slowly behind, towards the barracks -
those who would be able to work until they gave out, at which point it was their turn to go to the showers.

Even today, just thinking of that spectrum of horror, the question that cries out from the heart is always the same: “Where was God in those days?”

At Auschwitz-Birkenau, Benedict XVI made that question his. After having said: “I could not not come here. I had to come. It was and is an obligation to truth and to the rights of those who have suffered, a duty before God to be here as the successor of John Paul II and as a son of the German people.”

Without a doubt, Papa Ratzinger felt on Sunday afternoon the weight of history on his shoulders. His face said it, as did his walk by himself, hands clasped, through Auschwitz-1, passing alone through the gate with the inscription ‘Arbeit macht frei’ through which millions of unfortunate human beings were led “like lambs to the slaughter” into the most infamous death camp in the history of the world.

“Lord, why did you tolerate all of this?”

Papa Ratzinger arrived at Birkenau’s last train platform after his silent walk through Auschwitz-1, a prayer with uncovered head before the Wall of Death, a visit to Block 11 where St. Maximilian Kolbe died, an encounter with some survivors where he took his time, not concerned about running late as he did (arriving in rome almost at midnight instead of the originally scheduled time of 9:15 p.m.).

And at Birkenau, he listened in silence to the chanting of Psalm 22, the prayers, and Kaddish, the Jewish lament for the dead. He lit a candle to “remember the faces of individual victims”.

“I could not not come here, I had to come, even if it is “difficult and onerous” to speak in “this place of horror without equal in history.”

And so he spoke, Benedict XVI did, and he choose to aim high. He said all that he needed to say and felt he had to say. Without, on the one hand, yielding to empty rhetoric, nor on the other hand, deconstructing the trite paradigms of political correctness.

Going beyond stereotypes, before many ex-prisoners who wore capos white and gold, the colors of the Vatican, he spoke of the “place...of memory which is also the place of the Shoah” and
observed that “the past is never simply the past’ but that it “concerns us.”

He gives no answer to the insistent anguished question posed to God because “we cannot scrutinize the secret of God, we only see fragments of his design, and we would be wrong to judge God and history.”

He admonishes that even today we can be ‘left alone' with the ‘humble and insistent lamentation of Psalm 44, “Wake up!”, and we do so “precisely in this present hours when new misfortunes weigh on us in which all the dark forces seem to be emerging anew in the hearts of men.”

The thread which ran through his discourse was the description of various victim groups in those memorial slabs which he contemplated one by one: that for the Jewish people, whom “the powerful men of the Third Reich wished to crush…in totality, to eliminate from the list of the earth’s inhabitants,” willing ultimately to “kill the God who summoned Abraham,” and in this way, “tear out the very roots on which the Christian faith is based, replacing it with a do-it-yourself faith, faith in the dominion of man, the dominion of force.”

He cites the memorial slab that remembers the Polish victims, “listed” by the Nazis among “the useless elements in the history of the world”. The mrmorial for gypsies. The memorial for Soviet soldiers who,“liberating peoples from one dictatorship, then served also to subjugate them to a new dictatorship, that of Stalin and the communist ideology.”

And the memorial inscribed in German, from which emerges the face of Edith Stein who, as “a Christian and as a Jew”, chose to die with her people….a witness to how, even in Germany, there were those who did not bow down to the power of evil and who now appear to us like lights in a dark night.”

He paused to contemplate the memorial in German, “an intimate duty’, he said, as “a son of that people over whom a group of criminals reached power through false promises, in the name of fantasies of greatness, of recovering the honor of the nation and its relevance in the world, promising welfare for all, but also through the force of terror and intimidation, so that our people could be used and abused as an instrument of their frenzy for destruction and domination.”

He gave no answers. Early in the discourse he said: “I am here to beseech the grace of reconciliation,” and to ask “the living God never to permit such things to happen again.”

In that moment, the rainbow had arched across the sky and seemed to arch down to the east, right over the ruins of Crematorium-II.

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 02/06/2006 23.37]

00Sunday, June 4, 2006 8:45 AM
Yesterday, I translated an account of a commentary from Osservatore Romano on the Pope's visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau last week from a news account. I have been able to get the full text of the essay from the online version of Page 1 of the newspaper on Saturday, 6/3/06, so I am posting the full translation:

The Pope's face
spoke volumes

By Alberto Migone

There are messages that are not conveyed by words – they are entrusted to gestures that may be simple but have strong impact. And in certain cirumstances, they are much more eloquent, because in their essentiality, they go directly to the heart and impose themselves better for our reflection.

The Pope did much through such gestures during his pilgrimage to the extermination camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau - gestures which anticipated and gave added value to the discourse that the Pope later delivered.

We can therefore truthfully say that his encounter with sorrow and with horror, of which those places remain as tragic symbols, was modulated through gestures and words, both important in order to fully understand the spirit with which the Pope undertook the last stage of his journey to Poland.

And television with its silent coverage and its close-ups helped us to catch and to experience these moments fully.

And so, there was Benedict XVI who walked alone through the gate of Auschwitz (everybody else stayed back). He was focused, meditative. One could sense he felt the whole weight of the evil which the place evokes. A weight that is oppressive for every man and for every Christian.

And the Pope, who comes from Germany, throughout that solitary solemn walk, seemed to have taken on the weight, as truly the alter Christus, the other Christ, who feels and takes upon himself the sins of the world.

It was a perception that gained with every succeeding step – at the Wall of Death, at block 11, and the dungeon where St. Maximilian Kolbe met his death.

They were scenes marked by a great silence. Even the words the Pope exchanged with a group of survivors were few and essential. Only the Pope’s face “spoke” amd “communicated” strong emotions, pressing questions which arise and interpellate our faith which, faced with such evil, oscillates between trustful abandon and recurrent why’s.

Then there was his lengthy solemn progress along the stone markers that honor the memory of all the ethnic groups who found their death in that place, after a calvary of brutality intended to cancel out any dignity that a man possessed. Near each marker, he paused to say a prayer. Unhurriedly, because in the face of sorrow, one cannot hurry.

Meanwhile – as everyone could not fail to note – the rain stopped, and a rainbow appeared, many taking this as a sign of hope that is entrusted to our hands and inspires us, as the Pope says, “to recognize – always and everywhere – evil as evil, and to reject it” and to bring us to those sentiments that are expressed in the words that Sophocles placed on the lips of Antigone, confronting the sorrow which surrounded her: "I am here not to hate together with you but to love together with you.”

The example of Maximilian Kolbe who offered himself to die – and what a death! – to save a companion in prison, and of Edith Stein, who walked serenly towards the gas chamber holding the hand of her sister Rose, show us that even here in this hell which was intended, thought through and diabolically realized, love did not die and was expressed in heroic acts which memory has handed down to us.

And certainly there were other acts, perhaps more common but equally significant, which, even in that desert, allowed the flowering of a solidarity born out of suffering a common unjust sorrow.

This is what gives us “the courage of goodness and resistance to evil” which can never have the last word.

00Sunday, June 4, 2006 11:28 AM
Emma in the main forum passes on this item from this week's issue of Vanity Fair, Italian edition. Here is a translation -

“When I faced the Nazis in arms in the Warsaw Ghetto, Pius XII was silent in Rome. Today, the German Pope came to Auschwitz, and on ground that is still drenched with the blood of the dead, he said that at that time, God was not present. What more did he have to say?”

In this way Marek Edelman, hero of the Warsaw Ghetto resistance, distanced himself from the polemics that ensued after Pope Beneidct XVI’s address at Birkenau.

Who is Marek Edelman? Gad Lerner, a Jewish columnist for the magazine, had this to say of Edelman:
“…since I was a boy, I had wanted to meet Marek Edelman, cardiologist, now 85 ywars old, commandant of a small army for which I feel the greatest respect as well as great emotion: ZOB, a Jewish resistance organization set up by the young men of the Warsaw Ghetto.

"The Zob youths decided that they would die fighting, and in April 1943, they opened fire on the Germans. Marek Edelmann, at 22 years of age, was the commandant of that insurrection. He guided the battle from a brush factory…”
Among the articles I haven't yet gotten around to translating is a letter written by Lerner to Dino Boffo, editor of Avvenire, stating his criticism of the Pope's speech at Auschwitz-Birkenau. In the same issue, Boffo answered Lerner.

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 04/06/2006 11.28]

00Monday, June 5, 2006 11:30 AM
Blonia Park - Photos
Here are some pictures from freerepublic website:

[Modificato da crossroads 05/06/2006 13.36]

00Monday, June 5, 2006 11:33 AM
Hello crossroads,

thank you for sharing these brilliant photos with us and WELCOME!
00Monday, June 5, 2006 11:34 AM
By the way, the young man on the second photo from the bottom, is that the actor who played JPII?
00Monday, June 5, 2006 11:35 AM
Imperial welcome at Krakow - Photos
Benedykt XVI do Krakowian: dziêkujê za serdeczne przyjêcie

Benedykt XVI do Krakowian: dziêkujê za serdeczne przyjêcieBenedykt XVI do Krakowian: dziêkujê za serdeczne przyjêcie

Pope was said to be deeply moved when he stood at this window for the first time

Remember this?

[Modificato da crossroads 05/06/2006 22.39]

00Monday, June 5, 2006 11:41 AM
Blonie Mass

00Monday, June 5, 2006 12:02 PM
Pope Benedict at Auschwitz - Photos
I know some of these pictures are already being posted, but I thought it would be better to re-post them all in one, especially so when they are well-taken. From freerepublic website.

00Monday, June 5, 2006 12:26 PM
Dear Crossroads - What a great photo series! I am sure everyone in the Forum is most grateful to you for this collection. We can never have enough pictures of Papa, but as I said in another thread yesterday, one must save and post every image we can get our hands on of his visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau. This is a fantastic contribution. THANK YOU...

And forgive me if I missed your initial posts, but welcome to the Forum and our community of Benaddicts.
Music of Lorien
00Monday, June 5, 2006 4:06 PM
Wow, Crossroads, what fantastic photos, and welcome!!

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I love the painting someone did of Papa with the BIG blue eyes, looking over his glasses!

00Monday, June 5, 2006 4:35 PM

Scritto da: Music of Lorien 05/06/2006 16.06
Wow, Crossroads, what fantastic photos, and welcome!!

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I love the painting someone did of Papa with the BIG blue eyes, looking over his glasses!

Thank you, all, for the warm welcome. I'll do my best to contribute to this forum, whenever I can.

@Jil, about the photo of the young man, there's no caption but I think you're right - he's the actor who played the role of JPII.
@Music, yes, that photo is my favourite, along with the last Auschwitz photo of the rainbow, umbrella and IL PAPA.

[Modificato da crossroads 05/06/2006 16.39]

00Monday, June 5, 2006 5:31 PM
about Auschwitz visit
Exempts from the conversation with Father Romuald Jakub Weksler-Waszkinel , Roman Catholic priest and a lecturer at the Catholic University of Lublin. Born in the Jewish family in 1943, raised by the Polish family he learned about his background at the age of 35. Since then he works for the better understanding between the Jews and the Poles.
The short interview appeared in a Polish Catholic weekly "Tygodnik Powszechny"
(I am not a very skilled translator so sorry for the inevitable mistakes)

Asked to share his thoughts about the Papal visit to Auschwitz said:
"The rainbow, which appeared there, is one of the signs given by God. I have read it as the sign of hope. And this Pope so humble. I have expected strong words, and I have found words full of humility, deeply moving, deeply theological.
And I have also found in papal speech the greatness of Israel. Words about the root of Christianity (...) The proof of God's existence - the duration of Israel - it is a thing only a great theologian could get out. But most of all it was the humility of a German Pope which was striking.
I was waiting for the words that would bring back the Vatican Council, that would repeat that the Church laments over the signs of anti-Semitism. I rather miss the lack of them. But on the other side I found the words of reconciliation. We are entering the new millennium. It is time to start talking in the language of reconciliation . The past was terrible, it is still painful , but this reconciliation is the reality of the future , where we have to look forward to. That's why the rainbow - the sign of covenant - is the sign of Providence.

He also met the Pope personally:
"For me it was the greatest gift for my 40 anniversary of the ordination. (...) I told him that I am a Jew of Jesus. (...)
In the whole humility of the Pope, in his bearing, in his eyes, humble smile, there is light. It is a beautiful sign that after John Paul II, the beautiful Pole, there appears ... the beautiful German, and with him the whole reality of European culture"

00Monday, June 5, 2006 5:51 PM

Thanks so much, Yvonne. The translation was great. The priest's words were very moving and it is interesting to see how he too describes Papa, as so many people who have met him and so many of us do, in terms of beauty and light. Papa, in real life, must be someone who transcends his physical presence just as his words and thoughts soar beyond the limits of each individual word.

00Monday, June 5, 2006 8:06 PM
And from me....
I must join you, Benefan, in thanking Iwona for that report and thanking Crossroads for all those moving photos - the exultant ones in Blonie Park and the poignant ones at Auschwitz. This is altogether a great page - I hope we can save it [photos and report] for posterity.
Peace and Love always - Mary x
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00Monday, June 5, 2006 8:19 PM
visit to Poland as a hair raising experience

[Modificato da Yvonne44 05/06/2006 20.24]

00Monday, June 5, 2006 9:30 PM
I forgot about the Warsaw Mass photos - but here they are.



Papie¿ podczas mszy w Warszawie

00Monday, June 5, 2006 9:33 PM
Re: visit to Poland as a hair raising experience

Scritto da: Yvonne44 05/06/2006 20.19

Yvonne, I like the hair-raising photo but at which event this happened??


[Modificato da crossroads 05/06/2006 21.35]

00Monday, June 5, 2006 10:45 PM
I don't really know. I got from a friend a folder full of photos - many of them are the same you have posted - and among them the "hairy" one. It was among the photos from the airport - the farewell ceremony. But I am not sure.
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