Pope Francis expected to visit Auschwitz in 2016
Pope Francis will likely visit the former Nazi-German death camp Auschwitz when he comes to Poland next year for a major Catholic festival, an archbishop from the devout country said Friday.
The Argentine pontiff has yet to confirm the side trip but has already said he will be in the southern town of Krakow for World Youth Day from July 28 to 31 next year, according to the city’s archbishop, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz.
Dziwisz was the former secretary to the Polish-born John Paul II, who was pope from 1978 until his death in 2005 and was made a saint last year.
Both John Paul II and Francis’s predecessor pope Benedict visited Auschwitz, where 1.1 million people — most of them European Jews — died during World War II.
Dziwisz spoke at a Warsaw press conference about the World Youth Day festival, which could draw up to 2.5 million people from some 200 countries. It starts July 25 of next year.
Francis is also expected to visit John Paul II’s birthplace of Wadowice in the country of 38 million people, where some 90 percent identify themselves as Roman Catholic.
The Jasna Gora monastery is also on the agenda. Located nearby in Czestochowa, it is home to the Black Madonna — an ancient Catholic icon of the Virgin Mary that is believed to work miracles.