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Friday, May 26, 2006


VATICAN CITY, MAY 26, 2006 (VIS) - Tomorrow, Saturday May 27, VIS will transmit a special service on the Holy Father's meeting in Czestochowa with religious, seminarians and representatives from Catholic movements and institutes of consecrated life, and on his visit to John Paul II's home town of Wadowice where he is due to meet local inhabitants in the town's Rynek Square.
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VATICAN CITY, MAY 26, 2006 (VIS) - At 9.15 this morning, the Pope travelled from the apostolic nunciature, where he had spent the night, to Warsaw's Pilsudski Square, also known as Victory Square, where he presided at a Eucharistic concelebration. It was in Pilsudski Square, on June 2 1979, that John Paul II began his first pastoral visit to his homeland.

  Concelebrating with the Holy Father were Polish cardinals and bishops, as well as bishops from other countries and a large number of priests. The service was attended by 270,000 people, including Lech Kaczynski, president of Poland, and other civil authorities.

  Addressing the faithful gathered under the driving rain, Benedict XVI recalled in his homily how in the same square, "on the eve of Pentecost, Pope John Paul II uttered the significant words of the prayer 'Let your Spirit descend, and renew the face of the earth.' And he added: 'The face of this land'."

  "How can we not thank God today for all that was accomplished in your native land and in the whole world during the pontificate of John Paul II? Before our eyes, changes occurred in entire political, economic and social systems. People in various countries regained their freedom and their sense of dignity."

  Faced with people or groups who obscure Church tradition, "seeking to falsify the Word of Christ and to remove from the Gospel those truths which, in their view, are too uncomfortable for modern man," said the Pope, "every Christian is bound to confront his own convictions continually with the teachings of the Gospel and of the Church's Tradition in the effort to remain faithful to the word of Christ, even when it is demanding and, humanly speaking, hard to understand.

  "We must not yield to the temptation of relativism or of a subjectivist and selective interpretation of Sacred Scripture. Only the whole truth can open us to adherence to Christ, Who died and rose for our salvation."

  After highlighting how "faith consists in an intimate relationship with Christ," Benedict XVI made it clear that to love Christ means "trusting Him even in times of trial. ... Entrusting ourselves to Christ, we lose nothing, we gain everything. In His hands our life acquires its true meaning. ... To love Him is to remain in dialogue with Him, in order to know His will and to put it into effect promptly."

  He added: "Yet living one's personal faith as a love-relationship with Christ also means being ready to renounce everything that constitutes a denial of His love. ... Faith as adherence to Christ is revealed as love that prompts us to promote the good inscribed by the Creator into the nature of every man and woman among us, into the personality of every human being and into everything that exists in the world."

  The Pope concluded his homily by recalling that 27 years ago, "in this place, Pope John Paul II said: 'Poland has become nowadays the land of particularly responsible witness.' I ask you now," he added, "to cultivate this rich heritage of faith transmitted to you by earlier generations, the heritage of the thought and the service of that great Pole who was Pope John Paul II. Stand firm in your faith, hand it down to your children, bear witness to the grace which you have experienced so abundantly through the Holy Spirit in the course of your history."

  At the conclusion of the Mass, the Holy Father returned to the apostolic nunciature, where he had lunch with members of his entourage.

  Early this afternoon, he will travel by helicopter to Czestochowa where he will visit the most famous Marian shrine in Poland and meet with religious, seminarians and representatives from Catholic movements and institutes of consecrated life. He will then move on to Krakow where he is due spend the night in the archbishop's place.
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VATICAN CITY, MAY 25, 2006 (VIS) - At 5.30 p.m. today, the Holy Father traveled to the presidential palace in Warsaw, where he paid a courtesy visit to Lech Kaczynski, president of the Republic of Poland. During the visit he also greeted the prime minister, and the two presidents of the country's parliament.

  Following his meeting with the Polish president, Benedict XVI moved on to the Lutheran church of the Most Holy Trinity where he met delegates from the seven Churches that form the Polish Council for Ecumenism (PRE): Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession, Methodists, Baptists, Old Catholic Mariavite Church, Autocephalous Orthodox Church in Poland, Evangelical Reformed, and Polish Catholic. Since 1970, the PRE has supported theological dialogue with the Catholic Church, and met with John Paul II in Poland during his pastoral visits to the country.

  In the church of the Most Holy Trinity, site of numerous ecumenical encounters, John Paul II presided over an ecumenical service for unity on June 9, 1991.

  Addressing those present, Benedict XVI said: "Together with you I give thanks for the gift of this encounter of common prayer. I see it as a stage in the implementation of the firm purpose I expressed at the beginning of my pontificate, to consider a priority in my ministry the restoration of full visible unity among Christians."

  The Pope went on to refer to the "responsibility" inherent in announcing the message of Christ. A message which "must reach everyone on earth, thanks to the commitment of those who believe in Him and who are called to bear witness that He is truly sent by the Father. ... The task of Christ's disciples, the task of each of us, is therefore to tend towards ... unity, in such a way that we become, as Christians, the visible sign of His saving message, addressed to every human being."

  The Pope recalled the words pronounced in the same church by John Paul II: "The seriousness of the task prohibits all haste or impatience, but the duty to respond to Christ's will demands that we remain firm on the path towards peace and unity among all Christians."

  "Since that encounter, much has changed," Pope Benedict continued. "God has granted us to take many steps towards mutual understanding and rapprochement." In this context, he mentioned "the publication of the Encyclical Letter 'Ut Unum Sint;' the Christological agreements with the pre-Chalcedonian Churches; the signing at Augsburg of the 'Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification;' ... the ecumenical memorial of twentieth-century witnesses of faith," and the great ecumenical initiatives in Poland.

  "We note much progress in the field of ecumenism and yet we always await something more," said the Pope, going on to focus on two specific issues: "The charitable service of the Churches," and "married life and family life."

  "We cannot forget," he said, "the essential idea that from the outset constituted the very firm foundation for the disciples' unity: 'within the community of believers there can never be room for a poverty that denies anyone what is needed for a dignified life.' This idea is always current. ... Accepting contemporary charitable challenges depends in large measure on our mutual cooperation. ... I note with appreciation that in the community of the Catholic Church and in other Churches and ecclesial communities, various new forms of charitable activity have spread and old ones have reappeared with renewed vigor. They are forms which often combine evangelization and works of charity. It seems that, despite all the differences that need to be overcome in the sphere of interdenominational dialogue, it is legitimate to attribute charitable commitment to the ecumenical community of Christ's disciples in search of full unity. We can all collaborate in helping the needy, by exploiting this network of reciprocal relations which is the fruit of dialogue among ourselves and of joint action."

  On the second issue, the Pope noted how, "in today's world, in which international and intercultural relations are multiplying, it happens increasingly often that young people from different traditions, different religions, or different Christian denominations, decide to start a family." This is often "a difficult decision that brings with it various dangers concerning perseverance in the faith, the future structuring of the family, and the creation of an atmosphere of unity within the family. ... Nevertheless, thanks to the spread of ecumenical dialogue on a larger scale, the decision can lead to the formation of a practical workshop of unity."

  The Holy Father concluded by expressing his appreciation to the Bilateral Commission of the Council for Ecumenical Issues of the Polish Episcopal Conference and to the Polish Council for Ecumenism, "which have begun to draft a document presenting common Christian teaching on marriage and family life and establishing principles acceptable to all for contracting interdenominational marriages, indicating a common program of pastoral care for such marriages."


VATICAN CITY, MAY 25, 2006 (VIS) - At 12.30 p.m. today, the Pope participated in a meeting with clergy in the cathedral of Warsaw, which is dedicated to St. John.

  Opening his address, the Holy Father recalled the figure of Servant of God Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski, known in Poland as "Primate of the Millennium" who, "abandoning himself to Christ and to His Mother, knew how to serve the Church faithfully, despite the tragic and prolonged trials that surrounded him."

  After calling on the assembled priests to "believe in the power of your priesthood," Benedict XVI said: "Let us not be consumed with haste, as if time dedicated to Christ in silent prayer were time wasted. ... There is no need to be discouraged on account of the fact that prayer requires effort, or because of the impression that Jesus remains silent. He is indeed silent, but He is at work."

  "In a world where there is so much noise, so much bewilderment, there is a need for silent adoration of Jesus concealed in the Host. Be assiduous in the prayer of adoration and teach it to the faithful. It is a source of comfort and light particularly to those who are suffering."

  The Holy Father emphasized how "the faithful expect only one thing from priests: that they be specialists in promoting the encounter between man and God. The priest is not asked to be an expert in economics, construction or politics. He is expected to be an expert in the spiritual life."

  "In the face of the temptations of relativism or the permissive society, there is absolutely no need for the priest to know all the latest changing currents of thought; what the faithful expect from him is that he be a witness to the eternal wisdom contained in the revealed Word. Solicitude for the quality of personal prayer and for good theological formation bear fruit in life."

  "Christ," said Benedict XVI, "needs priests who are mature, virile, capable of cultivating an authentic spiritual paternity."

  After recalling how John Paul II, "on the occasion of the Great Jubilee, ... frequently exhorted Christians to do penance for infidelities of the past," he said: "We must therefore learn to live Christian penance with sincerity. By practicing it, we confess individual sins in union with others, before them and before God.

  "Yet we must guard against the arrogant claim of setting ourselves up to judge earlier generations, who lived in different times and different circumstances. Humble sincerity is needed in order not to deny the sins of the past, and at the same time not to indulge in facile accusations in the absence of real evidence or without regard for the different preconceptions of the time. ... As we ask pardon for the wrong that was done in the past, we must also remember the good accomplished with the help of divine grace."

  The Church in Poland today, the Holy Father said, "faces an enormous pastoral challenge: ... The scourge of unemployment [which] obliges many people to go abroad. It is a widespread and large-scale phenomenon. When families are divided in this way, when social links are broken, the Church cannot remain indifferent."

  He concluded by exhorting the priests to "serve everyone; be accessible in the parishes and in the confessionals, accompany the new movements and associations, support families, do not forget the link with young people, remember the poor and the abandoned."

  At the end of the meeting, before leaving the cathedral, the Pope paused in prayer before the tombs of two late primates of Poland: Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski (1901-1981) and August Hlond (1881-1948).
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VATICAN CITY, MAY 25, 2006 (VIS) - The Pope departed from Rome's Fiumicino airport at 8.50 a.m. today bound for Poland where he landed, following a flight of just over two hours, at the international airport of Warsaw-Okecie. Waiting to welcome the Holy Father were Lech Kaczynski, president of Poland, accompanied by his wife, Cardinal Jozef Glemp, primate of the Polish Catholic Church, and Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, archbishop of Krakow.

  After listening to the president's welcome speech, Benedict XVI affirmed in his own address that he had come to Poland "to follow in the footsteps" of Servant of God John Paul II, "from his boyhood until his departure for the memorable conclave of 1978." He also mentioned the theme of his trip, taken from the First Letter of Paul to the Corinthians: "Stand firm in your faith."

  "This is no mere sentimental journey," the Pope added, "but rather a journey of faith, a part of the mission entrusted to me by the Lord in the person of the Apostle Peter."

  Recalling the various stages of his forthcoming journey - Warsaw, Czestochowa, Krakow, Wadowice, Kalwaria Zebrzydowska, Krakow - he concluded: "Finally, I shall go to Auschwitz. There I hope especially to meet survivors of the Nazi terror who come from different countries, all of whom suffered under that tragic tyranny."

  Earlier, during the flight from Warsaw to Rome, speaking to journalists accompanying him on his trip, the Pope described what happened in the concentration camps of Auschwitz and Birkenau as "something monstrous."

  While visiting the camps, he added, he will "think of the many dead," but will also seek "to understand how it was possible for man to fall so low and down tread others."

  "Let us hope that, from Auschwitz, there arises a new sense of humanism and a vision of man as the image of God. Let us hope this will serve to prevent such things ever happening again."

  At the end of the welcome ceremony, Benedict XVI travelled by popemobile to the cathedral of Warsaw, dedicated to St. John, where he participated in a meeting with clergy.
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