Archbishop Stanisław Gadecki, President of the Polish Bishops’ Conference

Exclusive Interview: President of Polish Bishops: The Synod Has Been Very Positive, But St. John Paul II Should Not Have Been Absent from Final Document Draft

Archbishop Gadecki Tells Zenit Synod2018 Has Had Much More Pleasant Atmosphere Than Others

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Archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki has expressed the Synod on young people, the faith and vocational discernment has been a very positive experience for him, but lamented that St. John Paul II is absent from the draft of the Synod’s final document
In an exclusive interview with ZENIT in the Vatican during the Synod, the Archbishop of Poznan and President of Polish Bishops highlighted this, underscoring the Polish Pope’s teaching and significance should be highlighted, for it was he who developed the teaching on the youth, the World Youth Day, the Palm Sunday celebration, and showed interest in young people in the letters he addressed to young people, as well as in many speeches every year.»
In the interview, the Polish prelate and Synod Father, reflects on the Synod, young people, the drafted final document and what original concerns he and his fellow bishops have not had to ultimately confront, and what has been missing.
Moreover, the Archbishop reflects on what it means to him on a personal level that this global encounter of bishops is taking place in the same period as the 40th Anniversary of the election of Pope St. John Paul II as Pope.
Here is our exclusive interview with Archbishop Gadecki:
ZENIT: Archbishop Gadecki, how has been your experience of the Synod, as we arrive at the final day?
I have a very positive impression of this Synod, especially in comparison to the previous Synod on the Family. The fears expressed before the Synod with regard to the issues of homosexuality, abolishing celibacy, and the reinterpretation of Humanae Vitae did not appear. Therefore, I think that this Synod will be remembered very positively. I have in mind, firstly, the introduction of a moment of silence after five statements made by the Fathers. This created a completely different atmosphere of listening in the general congregation, and it certainly contributed greatly—and this is important—to our hearing what was said.
ZENIT: Would you say certain elements have contributed to this impression?
My good impression also comes from the fact that the staff working at the synod was extremely polite, and the whole environment was better than on previous occasions. In fact, this is not the first time, that I have participated in a Synod.
ZENIT: Are you satisfied with the draft of the final document presented in the Synod Hall? What are your observations?
It also seems to me that the discussions, both in the small groups and later in general sessions, were taken into consideration in the reworking of the Instrument Laboris. They had a very positive impact, especially when it came to introducing modifications that really changed the whole document. Now, we stated that the Instrumentum Laboris belongs to the past, although some were saying that the final documents should be interpreted together with Instrumentum Laboris and that one explains the other. Once the final document has been written, it seems logical that it takes over the leading role and it doesn’t need the Instrumentum Laboris.
ZENIT: Synods are also for you Bishops, precious opportunities to experience the universality of the Church, spread across the five continents. All statistical research says that the numbers of Christians and Catholics decrease in Europe and America and increase in Africa and Asia. What can the European or American Church learn from the enthusiasm of young African and Asian churches?
It was a very valuable experience for the Synod Fathers to see the universal perspectives, which enrich the particular Church. For example, the African Bishops have completely different priorities— the problem of AIDS is a priority for them together with the water issue, and not the issues that seem so important for us. Their view of women is completely different. An African woman is the head of the family, while the husband is often absent. Women, in fact, not only bring children into the world but they also raise them, feed them, and bear the burden of their education. This perspective is totally different from the European one, where precedence is demanded for women so that they can assume the highest positions. There’s nothing wrong with that, but African Bishops do not encounter this same problem. On the other hand, one of the Irish Bishops said that in his curia, all the high positions are occupied by women and they are better paid than the bishop. This proves once again what I already said about being very cautious regarding statements about the place of women in society, because what can be true in one place of the world is false on another continent.
ZENIT: During the Synod the 40th anniversary of the election of the Polish Pope Saint John Paul II was celebrated. Do you think his legacy is still alive? Or is the Church forgetting it?
The memory of the 40th anniversary of Pope John Paul II’s election was a great moment for us. I am happy that we were able to participate in the Mass at the tomb of Saint John Paul II. President Duda also came for the Mass and he was able to highlight this occasion.
In addition, it is extremely important to recall the great work of the Holy Father Saint John Paul II, especially because, in the draft of the final document there was lack of reference to Saint John Paul II. We pointed out the fact that St. John Paul II was not mentioned, meanwhile he developed the teaching on the youth. He created the World Youth Day, the Palm Sunday celebration, and showed interest in young people in the letters he addressed to young people as well as many speeches every year. And, here, suddenly, Saint John Paul II is absent in the draft of the final document. His significance and teaching should be highlighted. This is primarily our task, the task of the Polish Bishops, Polish priests, and Polish parents.
Furthermore, we should try to make Saint John Paul II a Patron Saint of Europe. In fact, many bishops said in their speeches that they were educated by John Paul, that they belong to the John Paul II generation, that they owe him a lot in the field of ecclesiology. Here, a discrepancy appears between what the bishops said, referring to the highly respectable work of John Paul II, and the silence of the draft of the final document.
ZENIT: Thank you, Archbishop Gadecki.

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Deborah Castellano Lubov

Deborah Castellano Lubov is Senior Vatican & Rome Correspondent for ZENIT; author of 'The Other Francis' ('L'Altro Francesco') featuring interviews with those closest to the Pope and preface by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Parolin (currently published in 5 languages); Deborah is also NBC & MSNBC Vatican Analyst. She often covers the Pope's travels abroad, often from the Papal Flight (including for historic trips such as to Abu Dhabi and Japan & Thailand), and has also asked him questions on the return-flight press conference on behalf of the English-speaking press present. Lubov has done much TV & radio commentary, including for NBC, Sky, EWTN, BBC, Vatican Radio, AP, Reuters and more. She also has contributed to various books on the Pope and has written for various Catholic publications. For 'The Other Francis': or

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