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Pope Francis and Poland remember Saint John Paul II on the centenary of his birth

“During his numerous pilgrimages to our country, the Polish Pope visited many towns and villages. Thus every diocese in the Country will have a special occasion to remember one of those journeys and the related teachings": Monsignor Artur Miziński, Secretary General of the Polish Bishops' Conference, told SIR ahead of the events taking place between May and June 2020

“I invite everyone to participate in the solemn Eucharistic liturgy celebrated in the Vatican by Pope Francis on May 17, on the occasion of the great pilgrimage for the 100th anniversary of the birth of St. John Paul II,” announced Mgr Stanisław Gadecki, President of the Polish Episcopate. Karol Wojtyla was born on May 18, 1920 in Wadowice. Msgr. Gadecki pointed out that he had asked Pope Francis to celebrate Holy Mass on May 17, “because on Sundays more people will be able to attend the celebration.” Illustrating the celebrations marking the 100th anniversary of the birth of John Paul II to SIR, Msgr. Artur Miziński, Secretary General of the Polish bishops, announced that on that occasion the Episcopate will be issuing a special Message to the faithful highlighting the topical relevance of Pope Wojtyla’s Magisterium.

Msgr. Miziński, is a cycle of catechesis planned for the coming months to commemorate the Magisterium of John Paul II?

In the course of his many pilgrimages to our country, the Polish Pope visited numerous cities and villages. In each diocese, therefore, there will be a specific occasion to remember one of those visits and the related teachings: suffice it to mention the visits to Warsaw or Krakow. There will also be systematic catechesis in schools as well as in various parish groups.

For the Church in Poland the teaching of John Paul II is always present.

No other Pontiff had a better understanding of the situation of the Polish Church, and although the situation today is different – notably the political system – humanity and its problems remain the same. The Magisterium of John Paul II is the Magisterium of the Gospels. In celebrating the anniversary of the Polish Pope we will not erect stone or bronze monuments dedicated to him, but the living monument of a Church based on the teaching of Jesus brought closer to us by John Paul II.

What is the official program of the celebrations?

The solemn liturgies will be celebrated throughout Poland on May 17 and 18, but the plenary of the episcopate marking the centenary is scheduled for June 14, 15 and 16. On those days the bishops will gather in Kalwaria Zebrzydowska, the shrine near Wadowice, the place where the Holy Father made frequent pilgrimages when he was still in Krakow. The liturgical celebration, to which representatives of Episcopal Conferences from all over Europe and State authorities will be invited, will take place on 14 June at the John Paul II Centre in Krakow. The following day there will be a celebration in Wadowice, the birthplace of John Paul II. On the third day the bishops, at the end of the plenary session, will return to Kalwaria Zebrzydowska.

John Paul II frequently highlighted the importance of the Christian roots of Europe. In Poland that specific lesson would appear to be pursued with great dedication…

Also in Poland we are beginning to experience many of the problems that are afflicting Western Europe, eager to sever its Christian roots. This is a negative lesson for us which should lead us to draw some conclusions. I believe that we are doing just that: not only are we trying to preserve the values that deserve being upheld, we are also developing our Christianity and our faith according to our Christian roots. An example of this is the human person understood as the primary source of inspiration, as well as the awareness of the value of human life, from conception to natural death. Unlike many other European countries, where these laws are not popular or are disrespected,

in Poland, both the Constitution and other legislation protect Christian values.

albeit not always to a fully acceptable extent. The laws promote the dignity of the human person, the family based on the inseparable bond between a man and a woman united through the sacrament of marriage, the possibility for families to educate their children in conformity with their parents’ Christian values. I am not saying that in Poland we are traditionalists, but we believe that Christian values guarantee the future of our culture and civilisation. They allow us to live a life worthy of being lived by human persons. This was taught to us by John Paul II, and these are our priorities. And while we argue that there should be a place for Poland in Europe, let us also remember that John Paul II said that Poland has a mission to accomplish in Europe. That mission consists precisely in defending the Christian identity not only of our country but of the whole European continent.

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