A reflection on the vision of the Church built by Saint John Paul II, a Church faithful to orthodoxy and, at the same time, open and responsive to the signs of the times and engaged in dialogue with the contemporary world—this was the aim of the Friday conference in Warsaw on “The Church of St. John Paul II – The Independence of the Spirit.”
This conference, held in Warsaw under the honorary patronage of the President of the Republic of Poland, Andrzej Duda, gathered the most outstanding experts on the pontificate of John Paul II in the centennial year of his birth and two days before this year’s Papal Day.
During the educational lecture session, the participants reflected on the vision of the Church that the Holy Polish Pope built and left us.
Cardinal Stanisław Dziwisz gave a lecture on John Paul II’s vision of the Church and, in the lecture, talked about how Karol Wojtyła was prepared for the mission of the “liberating renewer of the Church.” He also explained what this vision looked like and how it was already concretized by him as Pope John Paul II.
In the context of the Pope’s teaching, he also asked what the specificity and identity of the Church in Poland is and whether we consciously nurture it. Card. Dziwisz also reflected on how the community of the Church in Poland can be strengthened and built up. In his opinion, this should be done by parishes, and the basis should be John Paul II’s teaching and his vision of the Church.
The director Krzysztof Zanussi spoke about the dialogue that the Pope initiated with the world of culture and science, and Professor Stanisław Krajewski spoke about the inter-religious dialogue, including with Judaism. The politician Paweł Kowal discussed the Holy Pope’s requirements for modern democracy, and the Ursuline Sister Jolanta Olech dealt with the role of women in the Church according to the papal teaching and the female genius.
During the conference, which is one of the events in the centennial celebration of Karol Wojtyła’s birth, Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki, President of the Polish Bishops’ Conference, convincingly explained why St. John Paul II should be proclaimed the Patron of Europe and Doctor of the Church.
During the debate at the meeting in Warsaw, the participants reflected on whether the Church in free Poland is the Church of Saint John Paul II. The following speakers took the floor: Professor Andrzej Szostek, Sister Małgorzata Chmielewska, Paweł Milcarek, and Michał Szułdrzyński. Also present at the encounter were Archbishops Grzegorz Ryś, Stanisław Budzik, and Artur Miziński as well as Father Maciej Zięba and Prof. Andrzej Grajewski.
Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Culture and National Heritage, Prof. Piotr Gliński read a letter from Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki. The Prime Minister recalled that the Church in Poland has been, for centuries, an institution whose functions have gone far beyond the traditional framework. He emphasized that the Church created and defended Polish statehood when it was not on the maps and that John Paul II, as a priest, built a desire for freedom, independence, and democracy.
Prof. Gliński emphasized that the heritage of John Paul II—who is always evoked as the most important Pole in history—is well-kept. “The presence of John Paul II today must be very strong,” he assessed.
The meeting, organized conjointly by the Foundation for the Exchange of Catholic Information and the Catholic Information Agency, was accompanied by workshops for young people.
The Warsaw meeting at the Secretariat of the Polish Bishops’ Conference was co-financed by the long-term program Niepodległa and the media patronage was provided by Telewizja Polska, Radio Polska, the weekly Gość Niedzielny, and the magazine Idziemy.
Due to the pandemic, only a limited number of people were able to participate in the event, but the debate was available publicly on the YouTube channel of the Catholic Information Agency, thanks to which the broadcast from Warsaw can be viewed worldwide.