Smoky Mountains Sunrise
Showing posts with label Catholic Church in Poland. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Catholic Church in Poland. Show all posts

Thursday, May 30, 2019

John Paul II and the Cold War’s Decisive Moment

By Father Raymond de Souza

Forty years ago the communists got what they wanted, and lived to rue the day.
When Archbishop Karol Wojtyła of Kraków was elected Pope John Paul II in October 1978, the question arose of how Moscow and Warsaw would deal with a potential papal visit to his homeland. The communists wanted no part of a pope behind the Iron Curtain. St Paul VI had accepted the invitation of the Polish bishops to visit for the millennium of Poland’s baptism in 1966, but the Polish regime and its Soviet overlord refused to permit the Holy Father to come.
The wily “Primate of the Millennium”, the now Venerable Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński went ahead with the Mass marking the 1,000th anniversary of Christianity in Poland at the shrine of the Black Madonna at Częstochowa, concelebrated by Archbishop Wojtyła and the entire Polish episocopate. At the centre of the celebration was an enormous vacant chair, upon which the cardinal placed a portrait of St Paul VI. Everyone got the message.
In 1979, the aging tyrants in Moscow advised their Polish subordinates to close the border to John Paul, as they had to Paul VI. Warsaw knew better; it was simply impossible to refuse the Polish pope entry to Poland, perhaps the world’s most devout Catholic country. So they tried to do the best they could. St John Paul II asked to visit “my beloved Kraków … where every stone and brick is dear to me” for two days in May 1979. He would come for the 700th anniversary of the martyrdom of
St Stanisław, the 11th-century bishop of Kraków, murdered by King Bolesław the Bold himself during Holy Mass. The Polish communist party was aghast; the Polish pope returning to commemorate the anniversary of the state killing his predecessor was simply impossible.
So they refused the proposal for two Stanisław-focused days in May, and offered instead nine days in June. John Paul accepted the “compromise” and announced the nine-day pilgrimage for June. The Polish bishops then decided to transfer the celebration of St Stanisław’s feast to June.
Thus outmaneuvered before the apostolic visit even began, the Polish regime, at best, could only attempt to limit the damage. They clumsily directed Polish state television, for example, not to show any scenes of the massive crowds. Yet they did not manage to get through the first day before suffering a lethal blow.
Landing in Warsaw on June 2, 1979, John Paul made a triumphal entry to the capital city, entering Victory Square, with its tomb of the unknown soldier, for the Mass for the vigil of Pentecost. With a million people packed into Warsaw’s rebuilt Old City, he preached the most important sermon in the thousand-year history of Poland. He began by pointedly recalling that God had seen to it that a pope would visit Poland, even after the refusal of 1966. The words were diplomatic and pious, but there was no subtlety in the message: God had won, the Church had won, the Polish people had won.
“Together with you I wish to sing a hymn of praise to Divine Providence, which enables me to be here as a pilgrim,” he began. “We know that the recently deceased Paul VI, the first pilgrim pope after so many centuries, ardently desired to set foot on the soil of Poland… To the end of his life he kept this desire in his heart, and with it he went to the grave. And we feel that this desire – a desire so potent and so deeply rooted that it goes beyond the span of a pontificate – is being realised today in a way that it would have been difficult to foresee.”
“Difficult to foresee” – perhaps the greatest understatement in the history of papal rhetoric. But John Paul clearly saw what was at stake. It was the same question that led to the martyrdom of Stanisław: would Poland remain free, or would the Polish state claim the things of God?
He continued: “My pilgrimage to my motherland in the year in which the Church in Poland is celebrating the ninth centenary of the death of St Stanisław is surely a special sign of the pilgrimage that we Poles are making down through the history of the Church.”
The witness of Poland, “from Stanisław to Maximilian Kolbe”, could not be understood without reference to Christ and the nation’s Christian faith, John Paul insisted. There could be no justice in Europe without a free Poland on the map, and there could be no just accounting of Poland’s identity and mission without including its faith in God.
As the homily went on, John Paul was repeatedly interrupted, sometimes for minutes on end, by a rhythmic chant of the vast congregation: “We want God! We want God!”
By the end of the homily, only hours after his arrival, the historical moment was already clear. The contest was over between a free Catholic Poland and the communist tyranny that had been imposed upon it from Moscow in 1945. It would take another 10 years to work out the details, but it was not in doubt who would win, and why.
The end of the Cold War cannot be understood apart from Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, Mikhail Gorbachev and the geopolitics of the 1980s. But the decisive moment was on June 2, 1979 in Warsaw, not on a battlefield or in a chancellery negotiation, but at the Mass for Pentecost.
Fr Raymond J de Souza is a priest of the Archdiocese of Kingston, Ontario, and editor-in-chief of

Friday, September 29, 2017

One Million Polish Catholics Set to Gather on Their Border for Rosary Crusade

Young Polish Catholics during a Marian procession, early 2017


As many as one million Poles are expected to take part in "The Rosary On the Borders," commemorating the Battle of Lepanto.

Polish Bishops have endorsed and encouraged the attendance of their congregations in this event, which takes place on the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. The organizers of this event hope to attract a few thousand Catholics, but as the publicity and enthusiasm has grown, so have the numbers.

The crusade was organized independently of the Catholic Church in Poland, for the purposes of honoring Mary as Queen of Poland, asking for her protection and intercession, and begging forgiveness for blasphemies. The organizers describe their effort on their website:

On this day we will go to the borders of Poland and we will pray on [sic] the rosary. Through this unprecedented prayer of the rosary, we want to show the faithfulness and obedience of Mary, who tirelessly calls us to recite the rosary. We also want to apologize and pay for all blasphemy, insults against the Immaculate Heart of Mary. We wish to implore by the intercession of the Mother of God to save Poland and the world. We believe that if the Rosary is prayed by about a million Poles along the borders of the country, it may not only change the course of events, but open hearts of our compatriots to the grace of God.

A Significant Date


The Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary is a date of significance for this event, particularly for Europeans. On October 7, 1571, one of the most important sea battles in history was fought near the mouth of what is today called the Gulf of Patras, then the Gulf of Lepanto. On one side were the war galleys of the Holy League and, on the other, those of the Ottoman Turks, vying for ultimate control of the Mediterranean. Pope St. Pius V urged the Christian world to pray the Rosary, and ordered churches to be left open day and night.

Following the Christian victory in this battle, and with it, the spiritual, cultural, and political future of Europe, the Holy Father commemorated this date as the feast of "Our Lady of Victory".  His successor, Gregory XIII, would later change the title of the feast to its current form: "Our Lady of the Rosary.

The Event in 2017


While the event takes place on the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, the participants note that it is also on a First Saturday as well as three anniversaries of note: 140 years since the apparitions of Our Lady in Gietrzwald (the only recognized Polish Marian apparition), 100 years following the apparitions of Fatima, and the eve of Poland's 100th year of independence.

The organizers and bishops are encouraging participation at the physical border of Poland, hoping to encircle the country with faithful Catholics reciting the rosary. Yet they welcome joining spiritually on the date and time (12:00 GMT) for those who are unable to travel.

Following the Society of Saint Pius X's Rosary Crusade, which ended just over one month ago, this event is an opportunity for faithful who attend SSPX chapels to join with the Polish people in prayer during this historic and grace-laden feast.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Polish Bishops End Year of Mercy by Enthroning Christ as King in Presence of President

On November 19, at the end of the Jubilee of Mercy, Poland celebrated a historical Act of Acceptance of Christ as King and Lord with a Mass at the Shrine of Divine Mercy, with the Polish bishops, government authorities, and many faithful in attendance. President Andrzej Duda from the Law and Justice Party took part in the event, thus attracting international media attention.

More than 100,000 Poles in Krakow recited the solemn pledge: “O Immortal King of Ages, Lord Jesus Christ, our God and Savior! In the Jubilee Year of the 1,050th anniversary of Poland’s baptism, in the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, we Poles stand here before you to acknowledge your reign, to submit ourselves to your law, to entrust and consecrate to you our Fatherland and our whole people.”

Read more at Life Site News >> 

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Church and Government Mark 1,050 Years of Christianity in Poland

Poland’s President Andrzej Duda,center, and his wife Agata Kornhauser-Duda attend a Mass as part of Poland’s celebration of 1,050 years of the nation’s Catholicism at the 10th-century cathedral in Gniezno, in western Poland, Thursday, 14 April 2016. Poland's bishops on Thursday opened religious and political celebrations that mark 1,050 years of Christianity in Poland with a debate on its significance for the nation. The church and the conservative government jointly organized the three-day ceremonies that opened Thursday in the western town of Gniezno, considered to be the cradle of Poland's Catholicism. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

From Associated Press
By Czarek Sokolowski

GNIEZNO, Poland (AP) — The head of Poland's influential Catholic Church appealed for an end to enmity and divisions as he celebrated a Mass on Thursday that marked 1,050 years of Christianity in Poland.

The Mass was part of three days of religious and political ceremonies that the church and the conservative government have organized in the western town of Gniezno, considered to be the cradle of Poland's Catholicism, and in the nearby city of Poznan, until Saturday.

Government members want the ceremonies to stress that Poland's Catholic identity ties the nation to Western culture and values, especially now when the European Union is criticizing its policies and warning that they threaten democracy and the rule of law. The policies have also led to massive street protests.

"Shouldn't we reach more boldly to the grace of holy baptism ... in order to overcome enmity and discord, in order to seek reconciliation and forgiveness that we all crave so much," Poland's Primate Archbishop Wojciech Polak said during the Mass at the 10th-century Gniezno Cathedral.

Some 90 percent of Poles declare themselves to be Catholics. The country's Catholicism is dated from Prince Mieszko I, who ruled the area that is now Poland. He was baptized in Gniezno around the year 966, on advice from his Christian wife, Princess Dobrava of Bohemia, chroniclers say.

Earlier in the day, Polak said that the baptism led to the growth of the "spirit of ecumenical freedom and tolerance. There were no wars between denominations. There was their creative coexistence."

During the Mass, the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, read out a message of blessing from Pope Francis, in the presence of President Andrzej Duda, Prime Minister Beata Szydlo and dozens of other dignitaries gathered at the Gothic cathedral, which holds an ornate silver reliquary with the relics of St. Adalbert, a 10th-century Czech monk who preached Christianity in Poland.

Duda, a Catholic, said that Mieszko's christening gave Poland the foundations of a modern state and a religion that remains with most Poles until today.

"The spiritual and the state element were woven together and remain that way," he said, referring to the church's authority that the current government wants to strengthen.

Early in the day, Poland's bishops debated the role of Catholicism in the nation. They also discussed Francis' meeting with world youth in southern Poland in July, and Europe's refugee crisis, a communique said.

Duda will address a special session of lawmakers and senators in Poznan on Friday.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Poland's Newly Elected President Saves Blessed Sacrament from Desecration

(translated from Polish)

On the National Thanksgiving Day, which was established in late 18th Century to commemorate Poland's patriotic struggle for independence, thousands of the inhabitants of Warsaw took part in an annual open-air Holy Mass, also massively attended by top state officials with the President-Elect Andrzej Sebastian Duda in person. 

During the Holy Communion a sudden gust of wind blew off one of the consecrated Hosts from the chalice that was held by a priest giving the Corpus Christi to the gathered believers. Unseen by any of the participants, a small Host dropped on the ground and then driven by the wind rolled along the pavement for a several meters before It finally stopped in front of the kneeling and praying newly elected President Andrzej Duda. Having spotted the Holy Host rolling on the ground,  the President spontaneously rushed to catch It with his hands and then strode up to the altar where he handed It over to the Cardinal Nycz, who was celebrating the Mass.

This unprecedented event was caught by the camera eye and could be observed on TV screens by millions of Poles all across the country.

Niech Bóg błogosławi prezydenta Wybierz Duda.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Feast of Saint Casimir, Patron of Poland

The three-handed painting of Saint Casimir is considered miraculous. According to a legend, the painter attempted to redraw the hand in a different place and paint over the old hand, but the old hand miraculously reappeared. The original painting was covered in gilded silver clothing in 1636 and is in Saint Casimir’s Chapel under his tomb .
Prince of Poland, born in the royal palace at Cracow, 3 October, 1458; died at the court of Grodno, 4 March, 1484. He was the grandson of Wladislaus II Jagiello, King of Poland, who introduced Christianity into Lithuania, and the second son of King Casimir IV and Queen Elizabeth, an Austrian princess, the daughter of Albert II, Emperor of Germany and King of Bohemia and Hungary. Casimir’s uncle, Wladislaus III, King of Poland and Hungary, perished at Varna in 1444, defending Christianity against the Turks. Casimir’s elder brother, Wladislaus, became King of Bohemia in 1471, and King of Hungary in 1490. Of his four younger brothers, John I, Albert, Alexander, and Sigismund in turn occupied the Polish throne, while Frederick, the youngest, became Archbishop of Gnesen, Bishop of Cracow, and finally cardinal, in 1493.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Former Primate of Poland, Cardinal Glemp, Dies

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Cardinal Jozef Glemp, the longtime head of Poland's influential Roman Catholic church at a time when it played a key role in the fight against communism, has died. He was 83. 

Jozef Kloch, a church spokesman, said in a statement that Glemp died Wednesday evening in Warsaw. Glemp had been ill for many years, and the Polish news agency PAP said he had lung cancer. Earlier in the day Warsaw Archbishop Kazimierz Nycz had asked the faithful to pray for Glemp, noting that his condition was deteriorating. 

Glemp oversaw the church at a critical time in its history and in that of Poland, a largely Catholic nation. 

He was the head of the Polish bishops' conference from 1981 to 2004. Until 2009 he also held the role of primate, the top leadership role. His years of leadership largely coincided with the papacy of the Polish-born Pope John Paul II, who was elected pope in 1979. In the following years, the church enjoyed huge influence in Poland thanks to John Paul's authority and his role in inspiring the Solidarity movement of Lech Walesa that helped topple communism in 1989. 

A key moment for Glemp as church leader came in 1981, when communist authorities imposed the harsh crackdown aimed at crushing Solidarity. 

Some democracy activists at the time faulted Glemp for failing to confront the regime forcefully, but said any seemingly conciliatory gestures were meant to try to prevent violence in the nation. 

Monday, November 22, 2010

World’s Tallest Jesus Statue Unveiled in Poland

A man stands near the crowned head of the statue
of Jesus while under construction on November 4.

From National Post
By Rob Strybel

About 15,000 Christian pilgrims and tourists streamed into the western Polish town of Swiebodzin on Sunday for the unveiling of what has been billed as the world’s tallest statue of Jesus, police said.

Polish television stations showed throngs of worshippers marching in procession with religious banners and placards proclaiming “Christ the King of the Universe.”

“This monument is a visible sign of faith in Christ,” said Bishop Stefan Regmunt who blessed the statue at a ceremony presided over by Cardinal Henryk Gulbinowicz.

The brain child of retired local Roman Catholic priest Sylwester Zawadzki, the figure soars to a height of 33 metres (108 ft) which he said symbolised the 33 years Jesus lived on earth.

It is three metres taller than Brazil’s statue of Christ the Redeemer which stands on a mountain top overlooking Rio de Janeiro.

The three-metre gold crown gracing the 440-tonne Polish statue, said to symbolise the three years of Christ’s ministry on earth, would bring the monument’s overall height to 36 metres.

“Christ the King will welcome visitors to Catholic Poland,” the 78-year-old Father Zawadzki has repeatedly said of his creation which stands on an artificial 16-metre mound. “The monument has been erected to fulfil a religious mission, not as an attraction.”

But tourists have been arriving from Germany wanting to take souvenir photos of the monument about 90 km (55 miles) from the German border, news channel TVN24 reported.

The fibreglass and plaster figure with outstretched arms was financed entirely through donations by parishioners and other advocates of the project.