The meeting of the Diocesan Bishops’ Council was held at Jasna Gora on August 25, on the eve of the Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The meeting was presided by Archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki, President of the Polish Bishops’ Conference.
1. The session initiated with the presentation of evangelization and prayer initiatives which will be taken in Rome and Poland by young people and priests during the sessions of the Synod of Bishops on youth (from October 3 to October 28). With reference to the World Youth Day in Panama in January 2019, bishops underlined the will of many young Poles to participate in the event and a great interest of young Poles in the volunteer work during the meeting with Pope Francis in Panama.
2. Bishops are spiritually united with Pope Francis and all participants of the World Meeting of Families in Dublin. At the same time, they emphasize that pastoral care of families is a priority for the Catholic Church in Poland. The preparation of the engaged for marriage is a particular challenge. Bishops remind of the need to accompany people who live in sacramental relationships as well as those who find themselves in a difficult marital situation.
3. Bishops accepted with gratitude and seriousness the letter of Pope Francis to the People of God, which is a response to reports of the suffering of minors because of their sexual abuse by some of clergymen. Pope Francis wrote i.a.: “The pain of the victims and their families is also our pain, and so it is urgent that we once more reaffirm our commitment to ensure the protection of minors and of vulnerable adults”. In this spirit, the bishops confirm their determination to fight this sin and crime. At the same time, they emphasize the necessity of caring for victims and the need to build a culture capable of preventing such crimes. In response to the Pope’s call for concrete actions, the Diocesan Bishops’ Council decided, in accordance with the earlier Guidelines of the Polish Bishops’ Conference, to undertake a large-scale prevention program in dioceses.
4. The premises of new rules for the formation of candidates for the priesthood were also discussed. Candidates, living in such a changing modern culture, require a new, more personal style of accompanying and discerning their preparation for the priesthood. A document is currently being prepared, which is an application to the Polish realities of the document of the Congregation for the Clergy entitled “The gift of priestly vocation. Ratio fundamentalis institutionis sacerdotalis”. In the new approach to formation, the idea is to make the priest always feel like a disciple on the way, constantly in need of a comprehensive formation, understood as a continuing conformation to Christ.
5. The climate summit organized under the auspices of the United Nations in December this year in Katowice will be an opportunity to recall the responsibility of the whole human family for the work of creation, for our common home – the Earth. Respect for the created world expresses respect for God the Creator. God entrusted the Earth to man. Therefore, there is need for understanding and for a joint effort to care for Earth, which Pope Francis calls in the encyclical Laudato si’ for. The bishops encourage to read it and to pray that the Holy Spirit, who breaths wherever He wants, unites everyone in respect of the work of creation.
6. The bishops are very grateful to all who in summer have taken up various efforts of pilgrimage to Jasna Gora and other sanctuaries as well as to all those who have received pilgrims on their way and accompanied them with prayer. They also thank Pope Francis for the greetings given by Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, who came to Jasna Gora with the walking pilgrimage from Lodz. The shepherds of the Church in Poland express their gratitude to the clergy and laity for their involvement in various evangelization activities during the holidays.
Bishops bless from Jasna Gora their compatriots at home and abroad. Their blessing includes in particular educators, teachers, catechists, children and youth, who will soon start their new school and catechetical year. They also express gratitude to the farmers for their efforts to collect the crops of the land and unite with them in thanksgiving to God.
Signed by diocesan bishops gathered at Jasna Gora
Jasna Gora, August 25, 2018