WARSAW, Poland — Poland’s chief rabbi on Friday hailed Pope Francis’s plan to visit the Auschwitz death camp during a trip to the country later this month, saying he would set “an example for humanity.”
The Roman Catholic leader will meet Holocaust survivors at the former Nazi camp on July 29, on the third day of his visit to the country for World Youth Day.
“It is important that everyone goes (to Auschwitz) to reflect on what happened there,” chief rabbi Michael Schudrich said.
“It is the worst place in the world and the pope, the world’s most powerful religious leader, sets an example for humanity.”
Schudrich also welcomed the pontiff’s intention to remain silent during his visit to the camp, where some 1.1 million people, including a million Jews from across Europe, were killed by Nazi Germany from 1940 to 1945.
“You have to remain silent when you are there, to then shout out loud to the world about what you have seen,” he said.
Two of the pope’s predecessors also visited the camp: John Paul II — a former archbishop of Krakow — in 1979 and Benedict XVI in 2006 respectively.
Pope Francis will spend five days in Poland, arriving on July 27 and concluding his visit on July 31.
A delegation of 30 members of Poland’s Jewish community will take part in the Auschwitz visit and Schudrich said he hopes that a smaller group will meet the pontiff in Krakow, although plans are not yet certain.