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Pope marking Holocaust warns another extermination possible

Francis spoke off the cuff at the end of his weekly general audience to commemorate the 76th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp in Poland.

ROME, Italy — 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.

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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.”

"Today we celebrate #RemembranceDay," Pope Francis tweeted on Wednesday. "To remember is an expression of humanity; it means being attentive because these things can happen again, starting with ideological proposals that are intended to save a people and end up destroying humanity."

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“Remembering is an expression of humanity. Remembering is a sign of civilization,” the Pope said. “Remembering is a condition for a better future of peace and fraternity.”

Francis prayed at the Auschwitz-Birkenau memorial during his 2016 visit to Poland. He was the third pope to visit the site, following Pope St John Paul II and Benedict XVI.

Credit: AP
FILE - In this Dec. 8, 2020 file photo, Pope Francis delivers his message during the Angelus noon prayer from the window of his studio overlooking St.Peter's Square, on the Immaculate Conception day, at the Vatican. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini, file)

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Erin McHugh from Tegna contributed to this report.