The activities of the Church in Poland in the past year should result in the promotion of courageous initiatives related to the proclamation of the Gospel and a special concern for those in need, believes the Primate of Poland.
Summing up the year 2017 for the Polish Catholic Information Agency (KAI), Archbishop Wojciech Polak mentions, among others, preparations of young people for the Synod on the subject and the document of the Episcopate “The Christian Shape of Patriotism”.
We publish the reflection of Archbishop Wojciech Polak on the Church in Poland in 2017:
The past year has undoubtedly been Marian. For the Church in Poland celebrated with the whole Church the 100th anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady in Fatima. On this occasion, in the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fatima in Krzeptowki, in Zakopane, the bishops renewed the Act of the Consecration of the Church in Poland to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. A Marian perspective was also marked by the thanksgiving in Jasna Gora, during the celebration of the 300th anniversary of the Coronation of the miraculous Icon, as well as the celebration in Gietrzwald on the occasion of the 140th anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady and the 50th anniversary of the Gietrzwald’s Icon. A specific pilgrimage to Mary and together with Mary has become an opportunity to revive not only our Marian piety, but also to look at her and learn from her the attitude of entrusting to God and responding to his challenges.
In this perspective we should also read this year’s message of Pope Francis to young people, which drew a three-year period of preparation for the World Youth Day inPanama. It was dedicated to the faith of Mary and it has become a concrete encouragement both to start the official preparation of youth in Poland for the meeting in Panama, as well as to join – in accordance with Pope Francis’ wishes – in the preparatory works of the next year’s Synod of Bishops. It is worth noting the activity of the National Office of World Youth Days, but also of diocesan pastoral ministries, which are also involved in completing the pre-Synod questionnaire by many young people. The opportunity to participate in this survey, also through the website, has allowed many young people to formulate their expectations and share their own experience of faith in the community of the Church in Poland. To meet these expectations of young people, the bishops announced 2018 the year of Saint Stanislaus Kostka.
In the aforementioned questionnaires, young people also described the specific values and shadows of the youth pastoral, which is an important starting point for a more creative and determined concern for young people. An important thing to emphasize is also – indicated in the preparations before the Synod – a direction combining faith and recognition of the vocation. What is needed, is a kind of vocational grammar among young people, that is the ability to read all of their life as a gift and a call of God.
The second subject, apart the Marian theme, of the pastoral commitment and care of the Church in Poland in 2017, was still ongoing work on guidelines for the pastoral care of marriages and families, prepared in the light of the apostolic exhortation of Pope Francis “Amoris laetitia”. These works were held not only within the framework of the Council for the Family of the Polish Bishop’s Conference or during the plenary meetings of the Episcopate, but also in the discussion present in various forums and in the pastoral care of the families. To this subject was devoted the 1st National Forum of the Pastoral Care of the Family in Gniezno, chaired by Cardinal Kevin Farrell, Prefect of the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life. All these works are aimed at preparing a document, which, on the one hand, would take into account contemporary challenges and, on the other hand, would take care of marriage and family, as it was indicated by Pope Francis, accompanying them at all stages, from the preparation to the conclusion of a sacramental marriage, with a special accompaniment in challenges and difficulties regarding marital and family life or abnormal situations.
The third issue worth noting and highlighting this year are social challenges. I think it is worth emphasizing the constant, despite resistance coming from the government, speaking up of Polish Bishops’ Conference for refugees, including humanitarian corridors with the help of Caritas Polska, as well as assistance offered by the “Family to Family” program and many others. An important initiative has also been the publication of a document on the “Christian shape of patriotism” and the reminding in the light of it of the need to respect the constitutional order or, according to the Catholic social teaching, the separation of powers. And all this tends to a constant asking for building a social life based on the principle of the common good. It will also guarantee respect for human life from conception to natural death, with particular emphasis on care for conceived life of sick and impaired people.
In all events and pastoral activities, also focused around the subject of the pastoral year, it overcomes the necessity of in-depth reflection and communal prayer, which was manifested, among others, in the third Congress on the New Evangelization, this time dedicated to the Confirmation. The expected fruit of these evangelizing activities should be the promotion of courageous initiatives related to the proclamation of Christ and his Gospel and a special concern and support for those in need, especially in the face of the ongoing migration and the presence of Ukrainian workers in Poland. These efforts must be accompanied by the work of the Church on the transformation of human hearts, constantly called upon in the light of the Gospel to conversion and to openness to the truth of the Gospel and its efforts to reconcile and build an interpersonal community.
Archbishop Wojciech Polak
Metropolitan of Gniezno
Primate of Poland