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Pope says ‘cruelty did not end in Auschwitz’

Pope Francis said Friday that "cruelty did not end in Auschwitz and Birkenau” following prayers at the infamous former German Nazi death camp

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Pope Francis said Friday that "cruelty did not end in Auschwitz and Birkenau” following prayers at the infamous former German Nazi death camp in Poland.

"How much pain, how much cruelty,”he said in his first words since his visit to the camp, where he passed in silence and alone through the wrought-iron "Arbeit Macht Frei”(Work Sets You Free) gate.

"How is it possible that we men, created in God’s image, are able to do such things?”he asked in an address to hundreds of young pilgrims from the window of the archbishop’s palace in Krakow.

The evil committed in Auschwitz, where 1.1 million people, most of them Jewish, were murdered during World War II, "did not end” with the destruction of the camp’s gas chambers and Germany’s defeat, he said.

"We saw the cruelty of 70 years ago, how people were shot, beaten to death or gassed.

"Today, in many parts of the world, where there are wars, the same things happen,”he said.

Francis called for those gathered for the Catholic 2016 World Youth Day festivities to "pray for those who are tortured, those who are imprisoned", many of whom are kept in overcrowded jails and "live like animals".

During a moving ceremony inside Auschwitz earlier Friday, the Argentine embraced survivors and met with 25 "Righteous Among the Nations", Catholics who had risked their lives to hide and protect Jews.

"Lord, have mercy on your people. Lord, forgive so much cruelty,”the pope wrote in the camp’s memorial book.