Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz is perfectly aware that in our age of terrorism, some young people (or their parents) might be afraid of a World Youth Day.
To this, he replies, Be not afraid!
Krakow is a city that has a strong emotional impact: it is the Diocese of Saint John Paul II, the Pontiff who led the greatest number of World Youth Days.
Once the Polish Pope’s secretary and now the archbishop of the city, Cardinal Dziwisz said, “Don’t be afraid to come to Poland, it is a tranquil country, the Security Service are efficient and the population is vigilant and welcoming. The desire is strong to go to Wojtyla’s city. The WYD will be a moment of joy, not only of amusement but of encounter in the faith of Jesus Christ together with Pope Francis.”
The cardinal recalled that when World Youth Days began now some decades ago, no one in the Vatican knew how to organize them. Cardinal Eduardo Francisco Pironio, who imagined them, thought of meetings of small groups in different parishes, whereas John Paul II imagined enormous expanses to receive millions of young people. Now, many years later, each WYD seems better than those that have preceded it.
Given the developments that the Krakow event could have towards ever better good relations with the Russian Orthodox, Cardinal Dziwisz said that, after the meeting between Pope Francis and Patriarch Kyrill of Moscow, “the most important objective is peace. Peace not only between Russia and Ukraine, peace not only for Europe, but peace for the whole world.”
“The young people who will take part in the WYD will come to Krakow to bring and spread peace and mercy,” stressed the Archbishop.
Remembering 35 years ago
Questioned about what he remembered of the attack on John Paul II on May 13, 1981, the Cardinal recalled: “I was behind John Paul II. I heard two shots, others say there were three. The way the Pope reacted gives an idea of his holiness.”
“From the beginning, wounded, suffering with the risk of death, he prayed for the one that shot him. He didn’t know who it was, but he prayed for him. When we went in the ambulance, he also prayed for the attacker.”
When everything seemed to have passed, John Paul II went to speak with Ali Agca who had shot him. “The Pope spoke to him of forgiveness, but Agca was only interested in the secret of Fatima. He never said he was sorry, whereas John Paul II said that it was necessary to forgive and to love to be saved.”
“When it happened that he paused at the tombs of the Pontiffs in Saint Peter’s Basilica, John Paul II reflected that he also was almost buried there,” said Cardinal Dizwisz. “The operation, and his stay in the hospital, was terrible, but the Polish Pope entrusted himself to Mary, thankful to the Lord, he faced all his sufferings inviting not to be afraid.”
Asked about the response of the Church in Poland to refugees and migrants, the Cardinal reminded that already housed in Poland are more than one million people, who have fled from Ukraine, from Byelorussia and from areas where there have been clashes. “The Polish Church is open to house the needy, but the way the phenomenon must be ordered is up to the State,” he stressed. “Poland has not built walls; on the contrary, it has welcomed those fleeing from areas where there were military clashes.
Before taking his leave, the Archbishop repeated: “Don’t be afraid! Bring people to Krakow, John Paul II’s city.”