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Polilsh Bishops' Conference

Word of German and Polish Bishops on 80th Anniversary of Outbreak of World War II

‘Common memory is the source of inspiration for a common present and future.’

Poland became the first victim of World War II suffering almost six years under occupation, which was accompanied by countless atrocities and destructive politics of extermination of the Polish nation, especially the Jewish population – reads the Word of German and Polish Bishops on the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of World War II – September 1, 2019 – entitled “Common memory is the source of inspiration for a common present and future”.

The document recalls 6 million Poles, including 3 million Poles of Jewish origin, who were victims of Nazi criminal system. The bishops invite to overcome the suffering and its painful memories through the sincere participation in the reconciliation process between both nations.

“We draw strength from the courage of Polish bishops who invited Germany and Poland in 1965 to seek with determination the truth and to follow the paths of reconciliation. Their message, known especially from the words «we forgive and ask for forgiveness», opened a new chapter in relations between our nations, while German bishops accepted with gratitude the outstretched hand. Today we show everyone who started this sincere dialogue our deepest respect” – reads the Word.

The bishops remind that it is up to us today to strengthen and deepen the unity of Europe, despite the historical distinctions of individual nations and states, but built on Christian foundations. “We appeal to everyone to draw from collective memory of the past, burdened with violence and injustice, but also from the memory of encouraging testimonies of humanity, the inspiration for further common actions for peace and unity” – states the document.

In conclusion, bishops entrust to God both nations and Europe as well as the whole world. “We call for prayer for the peace in the world during all Masses celebrated on September 1st. We also ask all believers to pray in their personal prayers for the cessation of all conflicts and wars, all terror and all violence, and to implore for peace for all people. Mary, Queen of Peace, may support us in our prayers and requests through her intercession with her Son Jesus Christ” –reads the paper.

We publish the whole document:

COMMON MEMORY IS THE SOURCE OF INSPIRATION

FOR A COMMON PRESENT AND FUTURE

The Word of German and Polish Bishops on the 80th Anniversary of the Outbreak of World War II

Eighty years ago, National Socialist Germany started World War II. The first bombs were dropped on Friday, September 1, 1939, on the city of Wielun, causing painful losses and destruction. Many civilians were killed or injured. Also, the hospital and its defenseless patients suffered. It began in Wielun the terrible catastrophe of World War II, which affected Poland and many other nations. On the same day, enemy ship’s cannons attacked Westerplatte.

In this way, Poland became the first victim of World War II suffering almost six years under occupation, which was accompanied by countless atrocities and destructive politics of extermination of the Polish nation, especially the Jewish population.

On the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of the war, we remember 6 million Poles, including 3 million Poles of Jewish origin, who were victims of Nazi criminal system. We are aware of the pain that victims and their loved ones suffered and which is still felt today. The war caused further great harm and suffering for people, especially because of resettlements: millions of Poles, and then Germans, had to leave their homes and look for a new homeland.

In order to overcome this suffering and its painful memories, we must all sincerely participate in the reconciliation process between our nations. We draw strength from the courage of Polish bishops who invited Germany and Poland in 1965 to seek with determination the truth and to follow the paths of reconciliation. Their message, known especially from the words „we forgive and ask for forgiveness”, opened a new chapter in relations between our nations, while German bishops accepted with gratitude the outstretched hand. Today we show everyone who started this sincere dialogue our deepest respect.

Eighty years after the outbreak of the war, today’s generation in Poland and Germany, as well as throughout Europe, is experiencing many changes for the better. However, we recognize that one should deal in a responsible way with fruits of reconciliation; they are not allowed to be recklessly compromised because of political interests. Therefore, at this special historical moment, we urge that our relations should never be marked with violence, mutual suspicion or injustice. It is up to us today to strengthen and deepen the unity of Europe, despite the historical distinctions of individual nations and states, but built on Christian foundations. As the Church, we are grateful for initiatives that Poland and Germany undertake – often together with other neighboring countries – facing the challenges of our time. We appeal to everyone to draw from collective memory of the past, burdened with violence and injustice, but also from the memory of encouraging testimonies of humanity, the inspiration for further common actions for peace and unity.

At the same time, we trust in the help of God, whom we entrust our nations and all nations of Europe, as well as the whole earth. We call for prayer for the peace in the world during all Masses celebrated on September 1st. We also ask all believers to pray in their personal prayers for the cessation of all conflicts and wars, all terror and all violence, and to implore for peace for all people. Mary, Queen of Peace, may support us in our prayers and requests through her intercession with her Son Jesus Christ.

Signatures

Cardinal Reinhard Marx

Metropolitan of Munich and Freising

President of the German Bishops’ Conference

 

Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki

Metropolitan of Poznań

President of the Polish Bishops’ Conference

Vicepresident of the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences

 

Bishop Ludwig Schick

Metropolitan of Bamberg

Co-chairman of the Contact Group of the Polish and German Episcopates

 

Bishop Jan Kopiec

Metropolitan of Gliwice

Co-chairman of the Contact Group of the Polish and German Episcopates

September 1st, 2019

About Paweł Rytel-Andrianik

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