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Monday, January 17, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 17 JAN 2011 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican Benedict XVI received members of the Pontifical Polish Ecclesiastical Institute in a meeting marking its first centenary. The group was accompanied by Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education,.

  The Polish Institute was the result of an initiative by St. Joseph Sebastian Pelczar, then bishop of Przemysl, and its history began during the pontificate of St. Pius X. It was inaugurated on 13 November 1910 by Msgr. Sapieha, who later became cardinal archbishop of Krakow. Throughout its existence the institute has enjoyed the benevolence and support of various Pontiffs, including Servant of God Paul VI and the Venerable John Paul II.

  "The celebration of the first centenary of this important institution", the Pope said, "invites us to a dutiful and respectful recollection of the people who founded it with faith, courage and vigour. At the same time, it is a call to show responsibility to continue its original aims, even today, adapting them as appropriate to new circumstances. Above all, it is necessary to remain committed to keeping the soul of the institute alive: its religious and ecclesial soul, which responds to the providential divine plan of offering Polish priests an appropriate atmosphere for study and fraternity during their period of formation in Rome".

  The Holy Father then went on to encourage the students "to consider yourselves as 'living stones', an important part of a history which today requires a personal and incisive response from you, making your own generous contribution just as the unforgettable primate of Poland, Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski, did during the course of Vatican Council II. It was here in the Polish Institute that he was able to prepare the celebration of the Millennium of the Baptism of Poland with that historic message of reconciliation which Polish bishops addressed to the German prelates, and which contained the famous words: 'We forgive and we ask forgiveness'".

  Pope Benedict went on: "The Church needs well-trained priests, rich in the wisdom acquired through friendship with the Lord Jesus, priests who constantly draw from the Eucharistic table and from the endless font of His Gospel. From these two irreplaceable sources, draw continual support and the inspiration necessary for your life and ministry, for a sincere love of Truth; a Truth into which today you are called to delve through study and academic research, and which tomorrow you will share with many.

  "The search for Truth", he added, "for you priests who are enjoying this unique Roman experience, is stimulated and enriched by your proximity to the Apostolic See which has the task of offering specific and universal service to Catholic communion in truth and charity. Remaining close to Peter, in the heart of the Church, means gratefully recognising that we are part of a centuries-old and fruitful history of salvation which, by multiform grace, has touched you and in which you are called to play an active role so that, like a flourishing tree, it may always brings forth its precious fruit".

  The Holy Father concluded his remarks: "May your love and devotion for the figure of Peter encourage you generously to serve the communion of the entire Catholic Church, and of your particular Churches, so that, like one great family, everyone may learn to recognise in Jesus, Way, Truth and Life, the face of the merciful Father, Who does not want any of His children to be lost".
AC/                                    VIS 20110117 (580)

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