Cardinal Lustiger to Be Envoy at Auschwitz Event

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 9, 2005 ( John Paul II named Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger of Paris as his special envoy to the commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp in Poland.

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The Vatican press office made the announcement Saturday.

Jean-Marie Lustiger was born in Paris in 1926 to a Jewish family of Polish origin. His mother was deported during the Nazi occupation and died in Auschwitz-Birkenau. A convert to Catholicism in 1940, he is a well-known promoter of dialogue between Catholics and Jews.

About 10,000 people will attend the Jan. 27 commemoration, according to the Polish organizers. Former deportees from all over the world will be present, especially from Israel, Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Hungary.

Some 30 countries will be represented at the ceremony. Fourteens heads of state, among them Russian President Vladimir Putin, Israel’s Moshe Katzav, Germany’s Horst Köhler, Poland’s Aleksander Kwasniewski and France’s Jacques Chirac.

Two monarchs will also attend — Queen Beatrix of Denmark and King Albert of Belgium — as well as seven prime ministers.

Polish sources told ZENIT that John Paul II plans to send a special message for the occasion.

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