Sunday, 28 May 2006

Prayers at Auschwitz

(AP Photo)
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Pope Benedict has followed in his predeccessor's footsteps by making an official visit to the former concentration camp of Auschwitz. And, for once, the BBC included a relatively lengthy report on the evening news, noting the symbolic significance of a German pope walking under the entrance sign, Arbeit Macht Frei ('Work Sets You Free'), stressing that today's visit was the Pope's own idea and referring to Papa Razzi's 'tenderness' in meeting camp survivors. The Guardian website (hardly pro-Catholic) reported that 'he moved slowly down the line, stopping to talk with each, taking one woman's face in his hands and kissing one of the men on both cheeks.' Mother Nature even obliged by providing a rainbow as an impressive backdrop (see picture above).The pilgrimage has been something of a media coup and has helped change the public image of this onetime 'rottweiler' - the crowd of (at least) 900,000 Poles chanting 'Bene-detto, Bene-detto' at the Papal Mass in Krakow says it all. We await with interest the papal summer programme in Rome - will Bertone move to the Secretariat of State and will the much-rumoured liturgical pronouncements (including a Universal Indult for the Classical Roman Rite) come to pass?

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