Warsaw, Poland, Jan 18, 2017 / 06:08 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Poland’s government has adopted multiple resolutions establishing 2017 as a Jubilee Year for the country, celebrating the 300th anniversary of the first canonical coronation of the image of Our Lady of Czestochowa.
“Polish Sejm, convinced of the special importance of Marian devotion for our homeland – not only in the religious aspect, but also social, cultural and patriotic – establishes 2017 the Year of the 300th anniversary of the Coronation of the image of Our Lady of Czestochowa,” the resolution of the lower house of parliament stated.
More than 94 percent of Poland’s population being Catholic, the image of Our Lady of Czestochowa, also called the “Black Madonna,” has a significant meaning for Poles and is highly venerated throughout Europe.
This has special meaning for me, being that my father was from Częstochowa and I have several cousins and cousins-once-removed still living there now. We even converse on Facebook, and in English on their insistence.
I agree. I wish the rest of the world would follow suit. Sadly this would never happen in Ireland now as our government is to busy trying to legalise abortion and separate themselves from the church as much as they can.
This is beautiful to see and inspiring to say the least.
It might be said Therese that the Church separated itself from the people as well. For many of us this led to years of bitterness and distrust of the Church before we were were able to balance that out and realize that the Church there is only one small section of a larger body and also that even then there were many good and noble souls within the Church in Ireland. Not everyone is going to make that journey and we have to recognize the distrust and distaste in some quarters for the Church in Ireland is not something that grew out of nowhere nor was it introduced by foreigners we can conveniently blame. The Church grew too enmeshed with the state in an awkward manner in Ireland and was virtually a govt. within the government at times.
“…After years of isolation, we are returning to the world of Western culture, a culture quite familiar to us, because for centuries we made our own rich contribution to it. Today we cannot refrain from following the path we have been shown.** The Church in Poland can offer Europe, as it grows in unity, her attachment to the faith, her tradition inspired by religious devotion, the pastoral efforts of her Bishops and priests, and certainly many other values on the basis of which Europe can become a reality endowed not only with high economic standards but also with a profound spiritual life**…”
- Pope St. John Paul II, MESSAGE OF JOHN PAUL II TO THE POLISH BISHOPS, Krakow, 10 June 1997
"…The future of Poland, of the Church and of the world are inseparably and reciprocally linked, interpenetrated and conditioned. The process of social and economic transformation in Poland, which has been underway since 1989, is taking place in the context of positive changes in the world such as the formation of the European Union or the extension of the Atlantic Pact…
The events of ten years ago in Poland created an historic opportunity for the continent of Europe, having abandoned ideological barriers once and for all, to find again the path towards unity. I have spoken of this on a number of occasions, using the metaphor of the “two lungs”, with which Europe should breathe, bringing together the traditions of East and West. Instead of the expected joining of spirits, we are seeing new divisions and new conflicts. Such a situation implies for politicians, as also for people of learning and culture, and for all Christians, an urgent need for new initiatives which might serve the integration of Europe.
Making her pilgrim way down the paths of time, the Church has bound her mission to our continent more closely than to any other. The spiritual profile of Europe was formed thanks to the efforts of the great missionaries and the witness of the martyrs. It was shaped in the churches raised with great sacrifice, in the centres of contemplative life and in the humanist teaching of the universities. Called to care for the spiritual growth of man as a social being, the Church brought to European culture a unique set of values…How impoverished European culture would have been without its Christian inspiration!
If we wish Europe’s new unity to last, we must build on the basis of the spiritual values which were once its foundation, keeping in mind the wealth and diversity of the cultures and traditions of individual nations. This must be the great European Community of the Spirit. Here too I renew my appeal to the Old Continent: “Europe, open the doors to Christ!”
On the occasion of today’s meeting, I wish once more to express my appreciation of the consistent and united efforts which, from the time that sovereignty was regained, seek to find and consolidate a secure and rightful place for Poland in the Europe that is coming together in unity, and in the world.
Poland is fully entitled to take part in the world’s general process of development and progress, and especially in that of Europe. The integration of Poland with the European Union has been supported by the Holy See from the beginning. The Polish nation’s historical experience and its spiritual and cultural wealth can contribute effectively to the common good of the entire human family, especially in consolidating peace and security in Europe.…"
- Pope St. John Paul II, ADDRESS OF THE HOLY FATHER TO THE NEW AMBASSADOR OF POLAND TO THE HOLY SEE, Monday, 3 December 2001
This is the only thing that potentially concerns me about the Polish Parliament declaring Jesus King - the Church never tends to fare well if it is too closely yoked with secular, governmental authority. Ireland is a classic example. It corrupts both spheres. There is ample evidence that State Churches lead to religiously apathetic populations compared with “secular” countries like the U.S., where you have a form of secularism designed to facilitate and defend religious freedom rather than to strangle it.
If the Church were to find itself, in the mind of the public, in alliance with right wing and nationalist parties against the official line taken by the Vatican - this could in particular be negative for the Church in the long-term and lead to decline in religious observance from those associating the failures of earthly politics with the Church.
I would hope that the Poles understand this as a recognition of the cultural importance of Catholicism to their national heritage as opposed to something “more” radical (or indeed perhaps reactionary) in nature.
Pope St. John Paul II made clear that he did not wish to re-inaugurate the “confessional state” model:
"…In the Age of Democracy, the Church found the focus of its European dialogue shifting from “church - state” to “church - society”; it no longer attempted to shape a confessional state, but rather a confessing society. As John Paul II put it in Ecclesia in Europe: “In her relations with public authorities the Church is not calling for a return to the confessional state” but instead offers the “engagement of believing communities committed to bring about the humanization of society on the basis of the Gospel, lived under the sign of hope”…"
So I hope that this represents an opportunity for Poland to show itself as a “confessing society” rather than a “confessional state”.
This has been an interesting and informative discussion all round on the place of the church in “society” vis-a-vis “state”, including the experience in Ireland!
Very interesting to be reminded (or, informed for the first time) that JPII was very encouraging of European union and Poland’s place in it. Now we have, rightly or wrongly, Brexit, and still Poland in the union and holding its faith.
Indeed, JPII was a huge believer in the European Union and Poland’s central role in it as the sort of religious/spiritual “bread-basket”, if you will. He had always hoped that the ultimate liberation of the Eastern European countries from Soviet Communism would lead to them joining the EU:
MESSAGE OF JOHN PAUL II
TO THE EUROPEAN STUDY CONGRESS
ON THE THEME: "TOWARDS A EUROPEAN CONSTITUTION?"
The expansion of the European Union or rather, for the process of “Europeanization” of the whole continental area, that I have fostered, is a priority to be pursued courageously and quickly in order to respond effectively to the expectations of millions of men and women who know that they are bound together by a common history and who hope for a destiny of unity and solidarity. It requires a rethinking of the European Union’s institutional structures to adapt them to the greater needs. At the same time, there is an urgency to establish a new order to identify clearly what are the objectives of the European construction, the responsibilities of the Union and the values on which it must be based…
Multiple are the cultural roots that have contributed to reinforce the values just mentioned: from the spirit of Greece to that of Roman law and virtue; from the contributions of the Latin, Celtic, Germanic, Slav and Hungarian-Finnish peoples, to those of the Jewish culture and the Islamic world. These different factors found in the Jewish-Christian tradition the power that harmonized, consolidated and promoted them. By acknowledging this historical fact in the process leading to a new institutional order, Europe cannot deny its Christian heritage…
Historical memory demands it; but also and above all, it is essential to its mission. Europe is called today to be a teacher of true progress, to spread a globalization of solidarity without marginalization, to take part in building a just and lasting peace within it and in the world, to bring together different cultural traditions to give life to a humanism in which the respect for rights, solidarity and creativity will allow every man and woman to fulfil his/her noblest aspirations.
JPII believed that the expansion of the European Union to include the Eastern European states was necessary and would lead to fruitful exchange.
Simply put, he reasoned that the Eastern European members would benefit economically and politically from the Western Europeans, while the Western Europeans would benefit spiritually and socially from the Eastern Europeans.
The result would be an ultimate net benefit for the whole of Europe - even if, initially, it would not seem that way at first:
**Eastern European Countries Constitute Spiritual Wealth for Europe, Pope Says
MAY 20, 2003ZENIT STAFFVATICAN DICASTERIES/DIPLOMACY
VATICAN CITY, MAY 20, 2003 (ZENIT.org).- Weeks before Poland’s June 8 referendum on membership in the EU, John Paul II reminded Poles of his words in Warsaw in 1997: “The foundations of Europe’s identity are built on Christianity.”**
The Holy Father spoke with the Polish pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square on May 19; they had come for Sunday’s canonization of their fellow countrymen St. Joseph Sebastian Pelczar and St. Ursula Ledochowska.
In his greeting, John Paul II reviewed the trips he made to Poland, starting with the first historic trip of 1979, and mentioned his country’s profound bond with Europe.
With only a few weeks left before Poland’s June 8 referendum on membership in the EU, the Holy Father quoted from his speech in Warsaw in 1997: “The foundations of Europe’s identity are built on Christianity.”
**“Today, while Poland and the other countries of the former ‘Eastern Bloc’ enter the structures of the European Union, I repeat these words which I do not speak for the purpose of discouraging but, on the contrary, to indicate that these countries have a great mission to carry out in the Old World,” he added.
“I must stress, however, that Poland has always been an important part of Europe and at present it cannot abandon this community which, it is true, is experiencing crises at various levels, but which constitutes a family of nations based on the common Christian tradition,” he explained.
“Entry in the EU structures, with equal rights to those of the other countries, is for our nations and for the adjacent Slav nations, expression of an historical justice,” the Pope said.**
John Paul II also illustrated the enrichment that this step represents for the continent. “Europe has need of Poland. The Church in Europe needs the Poles’ testimony of faith. Poland has need of Europe.”
This represents a challenge “that the present puts before us and before all the nations which, in the wave of political transformations in the so-called Central-Eastern Europe, emerged from the circle of influence of atheist communism,” the Pope continued.
“Such a challenge, poses a task for believers, the task of an active construction of a community of the spirit based on the values that made survival possible during decades of efforts oriented to introducing atheism in a programmatic way,” the Holy Father concluded.
I suppose we shall see if his calculation was correct in the coming years. He had a plan.
ADDRESS OF JOHN PAUL II
ON THE OCCASION OF THE RECEPTION
OF THE INTERNATIONAL CHARLEMAGNE PRIZE
OF THE CITY OF AACHEN (GERMANY)
Wednesday, 24 March 2004
Aware that the Catholic Church has at heart the union of Europe, you have come here to honour the Successor of Peter with the International Charlemagne Prize. If I am able to receive this Prize today, conferred in an extraordinary and unique way, I do so with gratitude to Almighty God, who has filled the European people with the spirit of reconciliation, peace and unity.
The Prize, awarded by the City of Aachen for laudable efforts to promote Europe, has very fittingly taken the name of the Emperor Charlemagne. Indeed, the King of the Franks, who established Aachen as the capital of his kingdom, made an essential contribution to the political and cultural foundations of Europe and therefore deserved the nickname Pater Europae (father of Europe) that his contemporaries gave him. The felicitous combination of classical culture and Christian faith with the traditions of various peoples took place in Charlemagne’s empire and developed in various forms down the centuries as the spiritual and cultural legacy of Europe. Even if modern Europe presents in many aspects a new reality, we can nevertheless recognize the highly symbolic value of the historical figure of Charlemagne.
Today, Europe’s growing unity also includes other fathers. On the one hand, we must not underestimate those active thinkers and politicians who have given and who give priority to the joint reconciliation and growth of their peoples, instead of insisting on their own rights and on exclusion.
In this context, I would like to recall those who have been awarded the Prize so far; we can greet some of them who are present here. The Apostolic See recognizes and encourages their activities and the commitment of many other personalities to the peace and unity of the European peoples.
My special thanks go to those who have put all their efforts at the service of building the common European House on the foundations of the values passed on by the Christian faith as well as on those of Western culture.
Since the Holy See is located in Europe, the Church has special relations with the peoples of this Continent. Therefore, from the very beginning the Holy See has been involved in the process of European integration. After the horrors of the Second World War, my Predecessor, Pius XII of venerable memory, demonstrated the keen interest of the Church by explicitly supporting the idea of forming a “European union”, leaving no doubts about the fact that for such a union to be valid and lasting, it is necessary first of all to go back to Christianity as a factor that creates identity and unity (cf. Address of 11 November 1948 to the Union of European Federalists in Rome).
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, what kind of Europe should we dream of today? Permit me to outline a rapid sketch of my own vision of a united Europe.
I am thinking of a Europe that is free of selfish brands of nationalism, in which nations are seen as living centres of a cultural wealth that deserves to be protected and promoted for the benefit of all.