The Pope at Auschwitz/Birkenau

May 30, 2006

Pope_at_birkenau_3 This is a great picture of the Pope on his four-day visit to Poland this week (ht: Die Welt).   Die Welt provided informative coverage of this event.   On the last day of his stay in Poland, he visited Auschwitz and Birkenau.  After walking under the infamous Arbeit macht frei gate of Auschwitz, he briefly met with 32 former inmates assembled there.  He prayed before the wall where thousands of prisoners were gunned down in a bid at extermination.  In this picture, the Pope is in the neighboring Birkenau death camp where he prayed at the international memorial for victims of the death camps.  As the newspaper pointed out, this photo is rich with poetic significance considering the rainbow in the background.  Die Welt noted its biblical symbolism of a covenant between God and man but did not elaborate beyond that.  More specifically, it signifies the divine promise of never again with regard to genocide by universal flood (Gen. 9:13-16).

God has kept His promise that "the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh."  Unfortunately, humanity has not been so willing to join together in such a covenant among themselves never to let the atrocities of Auschwitz, Birkenau, and other Nazi death camps happen again.  In the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, and elsewhere, people still pursue genocide and extermination of those considered subhuman because of religion or ethnicity.  Too many people, unforunately, are still abandoned by God and betrayed by humanity, as Elie Wiesel noted of the situation of himself and his fellow victims while prisoners in these death camps.

My guess is that even in the Millenium, when Christ himself shall reign personally on the Earth, we will never really understand life in the telestial world as we look back from a more peaceful state of being.