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On Holocaust Remembrance Day, pope warns mass extermination could happen again

Pope Francis says ideological fanaticism can lead to genocide, urges followers to ‘be aware that these things can happen again’

Pope Francis walks towards the main entrance with the lettering 'Arbeit Macht Frei' (Work Sets You Free) at the former Nazi German Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp in Oswiecim, Poland on July 29, 2016 (AFP PHOTO/FILIPPO MONTEFORTE)
Illustrative: Pope Francis walks toward the main entrance with the lettering 'Arbeit Macht Frei' (Work Sets You Free) at the former Nazi German Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp in Oswiecim, Poland on July 29, 2016 (AFP PHOTO/FILIPPO MONTEFORTE)

ROME (AP) — Pope Francis marked Holocaust Remembrance Day on Wednesday by warning that warped ideologies can pave the way to another mass extermination.

Francis spoke off the cuff at the end of his weekly general audience, held in his private library because of coronavirus restrictions, to commemorate the 76th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp in Poland, where Nazis killed more than 1 million Jews and others.

In all, about 6 million European Jews and millions of other people were killed by the Germans and their collaborators.

The Argentine pope insisted on the need to remember, saying it was a sign of humanity and a condition for a peaceful future. But he said remembering “also means to be aware that these things can happen again, starting with ideological proposals that claim to save a people and end up destroying a people and humanity.”

He warned that the Holocaust began that way, opening “this path of death, extermination and brutality.”

Francis prayed at the Auschwitz-Birkenau memorial during his 2016 visit to Poland.

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