(ZENIT News / Krakow, 03.19.2023).- Given its timeliness and relevance, following is a translation into English of the press release that the Polish Episcopal Conference asked to be read in all parishes, in the quake of the ceaseless attacks against the figure of John Paul II.
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In recent days there has been an unprecedented attack against the person and image of Saint John Paul II. This is happening in the Pope’s homeland, who made Poland’s name famous as no other in the world.
On the occasion of the Pontiff’s Beatification, the Mayor of Rome wrote: “Pope John Paul II left an indelible mark on the history of Christianity and on the history of the peoples of Europe and of the whole world.” The Holy Father Wojtyla became a symbol, a guide, both for believers as well as non-believers. He was a Pope whose contribution was decisive for the overthrow of Communism and of all those doctrines that tried to nullify all the dignity and freedom of the human being. Numerous nations found great strength in him, who was able to transmit the beauty of the faith and the values associated to it.”
On the occasion of his Canonization, Pope Francis recalled that Karol Wojtyla grew up to serve Christ and the Church in his homeland, Poland, before launching himself to travel the roads of the world. “I thank the Polish people and the Church in Poland for the gift of John Paul II,” said Pope Francis, pointing out that the Polish Pope continues to inspire us through his words, writings, gestures, style of ministry and suffering, lived with heroic hope.
“We are inspired by his total surrender to Christ, Redeemer of man, and to the Virgin.” Saint John Paul II is one of the greatest fellow countrymen of our history. He is also the Father of our Freedom. He walked before us like Moses: he took us out of the house of slavery, he led us through the Red Sea and he reminded us of the tablets of God’s Commandments. He was situated in the line of the great prophets, powerful in word and deed. He showed us the way, he protected us from danger, he warned us against getting tangled in the thorns of evil and sin. As poet and thinker he valued and loved Polish culture, history and tradition. A great and exacting teacher, he cared about the heritage whose name was Poland. He came from this heritage, he grew up in it, and it formed him. He was proud of that heritage and was not ashamed to confess it to the world. At the same time, he was the first citizen of the world; he went to all nations.
He showed respect for all cultures, histories and traditions. He made an appeal to Europe’s spiritual unity and reminded us of its Christian roots, from which our culture and our civilization arose. His pilgrimages to his homeland were great retreats for the nation, milestones of our history, a breath of the Holy Spirit in the consciences of tormented and confused compatriots. He spoke words with causal power, able to drive the country’s history and the people’s destiny to new ways. “May your Spirit descend,” “Peace to you, Poland, my homeland!” The whole world should have its Westerplatte!” “Do not be afraid to be saints!” “Have the imagination of mercy!” His papal preaching, his apostolic visits and his diplomatic efforts contributed to the spiritual growth of millions of people worldwide. For them, the Polish Pope was and continues being a moral reference, a teacher of the faith and an intercessor in Heaven.
In face of the recent large-scale attempts to discredit Saint John Paul II’s person and work, we appeal once again to all to respect the memory of one of our most eminent compatriots. The process of Canonization, which was carried out, including a profound historical and scientific analysis, leaves no room for doubt on the sanctity of John Paul II. Are we going to allow ourselves to be deprived of this treasure on the basis of a journalistic discussion of materials produced by the Communist Security Service? It was done with contempt for the learned workshop, in a calm way, often ahistorical, without knowledge of the text, and of other existing documents, reports and studies. The SB’s materials show especially the magnitude of the vigilance of the person of Cardinal Karol Wojtyla. We cannot allow a situation in which those that were opposed to the Communist dictatorship had to be ashamed and explain themselves, instead of those that invigilated citizens, wrote complaints, collaborated with the Communist regime, persecuted believers and violated people’s conscience.
The Church’s judgment on a person’s holiness is not done on the basis of his individual decisions or the lack of them. The totality of the life and activities of a person are taken into account and the fruits that are born from them. As Pope, Saint John Paul II classified the damage done to a child in the sexual realm among the most serious crimes.
He obliged all the world’s Episcopates to introduce specific rules to address these cases. Faithful to his instructions, we assume today the concern for the safety of young people within ecclesial structures. We feel obliged to listen and to give concrete help to all the wounded through the people of the Church. We thank all those that, with great courage and firmness, defend the good name of Saint john Paul II.
We make an appeal not to use the person of the Polish Pope for the ends of current politics. We encourage you to pray through Saint John Paull II’s intercession for our Church and national community. Let us not allow them to deprive us of our sentiment of pride and joy to belong to Christ’s Church. Let us not be divided, let us defend together our most precious values.
Bishops gathered in the 394th Plenary Assembly of the Polish Episcopal Conference
March 14, 2023