The pastoral care of married couples and families and help to victims of war in the Middle East were the main topics addressed at the 375th Plenary Assembly of the Polish Bishops’ Conference. Furthermore, the Bishops urge all parties involved in political and social life to show mutual respect and to work toward reconciliation, unity, and peace. They ask all the Poles to pray for their homeland.
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Communique of the 375th Plenary Assembly of the Polish Bishops’ Conference
On March 13th and 14th, the 375th Plenary Assembly of the Polish Bishops’ Conference was held in Warsaw. The discussions were led by Archbishop Stanislaw Gądecki, President of the Polish Bishops’ Conference. Archbishop Salvatore Pennacchio, Apostolic Nuncio in Poland, attended the meeting. Also present were Bishops from 13 countries: Albania, Belarus, Croatia, Denmark, France, Cuba, Lithuania, Latvia, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Germany, Ukraine, and Hungary.
1. March 13th this year, was marked by the fourth anniversary of Pope Francis’ election. The Bishops celebrated a Mass of thanksgiving, in Warsaw’s Basilica of the Holy Cross, for the current pontificate. The Eucharist was presided by the Apostolic Nuncio to Poland, Archbishop Salvatore Pennacchio, and Archbishop Joseph Górzyński, Bishop of Metropolitan Warmia, pronounced the homily. The Bishops sent a message to Holy Father on behalf of the Church in Poland, assuring of the continued unity and fraternal ties. They addressed to God a prayer, asking for him “the grace needed for to successfully fulfill the Petrine ministry in our time and the protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church.”
2. On the 25th anniversary of the Bull””Totus Tuus Poloniae Populus,” the Bishops expressed their gratitude to St. John Paul II having reorganized the administrative structures of the Catholic Church in Poland. They also thanked for the work and commitment of Archbishop Jozef Kowalczyk, Papal Nuncio in Poland at that time. The Bishops trust that this work will bear good fruit in the life of the Church in Poland and in the realization of her salvific mission.
3. During the Plenary Assembly, the Bishops discussed the pastoral care of marriage and the family in light of the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia. They emphasized that pastors and experienced married couples should take a greater part in the process of preparing fiancés for marriage, shaping in them the attitudes of faith that flow from baptism. Mention was made of Pope Francis’ call: “the initial years of marriage are a vital and sensitive period (…) Consequently, pastoral accompaniment needs to go beyond the actual celebration of the sacrament” (Amoris Laetitia, no. 223).
Speaking of persons who, after the collapse of their sacramental marriage, are living in new unions, they recalled that divorcees are not excluded from the Church but continue being members of Christ’s living, mystical Body (cf. Amoris Laetitia, 243). The Bishops asked the faithful to prayer for the spouses and children touched by the drama of marital breakdown and to give them proper support. The Church’s Pastors emphasize that a great role in caring for marriage and family is played by movements and associations that, despite all the difficulties, strive to portray the sanctity and the indissolubility of the marriage bond. Diocesan and parish counseling services are also important for family life.
Work continues on the recommendations for the implementation of the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, with the preparation of guidelines for marriage and family ministry that will take into account the particular conditions of the Catholic Church in Poland.
4. The Polish Bishops’ Conference supports the efforts that are being made for the beatification of the founders of the European Community, Robert Schuman and Alcide de Gasperi. At the same time, the Bishops asked for prayer for Europe, that the God’s dispositions and every human being may be respected.
5. The Bishops listened to a report on the activities of Caritas for Syria, including those of the aid program „Rodzina Rodzinie” (Family Families). Thanks to this program, over 7000 Polish donors are currently supporting 2,225 families in Aleppo. The Bishops confirmed the timeliness of the provisions of the 374th Plenary Meeting for the humanitarian corridors. They also agreed that on Mercy Sunday, which this year falls on April 23rd, there will be a special can collection for the victims of the war in Syria.
Evoking the food collection organized by Caritas in Poland before Christmas, the Bishops express their gratitude for the support given to the poorest compatriots.
6. During this time of Lenten, the Bishops thank the priests, consecrated persons, and lay people for their work and involvement in many pastoral, apostolic and missionary activities. At the same time, they invite the faithful to benefit from this time of conversion and repentance. They encourage the renewal of marriage and family life, sobriety, and the spirit of prayer. This concern will be expressed in particular through participation in the initiative of the National Congress of Sobriety.
Looking towards the upcoming Feast of Easter, the Bishops urge all the parties involved in political and social life to show mutual respect and to work toward reconciliation, unity, and peace. They ask all the Poles, both at home and abroad, to pray for their homeland.
Wishing all a fruitful experience of the Season of Lent and the joy of Easter, the Bishops give them their pastoral blessing.
Signed by the Pastors of the Catholic Church in Poland