Benedict XVI Reflects on
Trip to Poland
"All Christians Must Feel Committed to Give Testimony" (May
Dear Brothers and Sisters:
Today I wish to go over with you the stages of the apostolic trip
made in recent days to Poland. I thank the Polish episcopate, in
particular the metropolitan archbishops of Warsaw and Krakow, for the
zeal and care with which they prepared this visit. I again express my
gratitude to the president of the republic and to the country's
different authorities, as well as to all those who have cooperated in
the success of this event.
Above all I wish to thank from my heart the Catholics and the
Polish people, as I have felt their embrace full of human and spiritual
warmth. Many of you have seen it on television. It was a true
_expression of catholicity, of love of the Church, which is expressed
in love for the Successor of Peter.
After the arrival at Warsaw airport, the place of my first
reserved for priests was the cathedral of that important city on the
day that the 50th anniversary was being celebrated of the priestly
ordination of Cardinal Jozef Glemp, pastor of that archdiocese. In this
way, my pilgrimage began with the sign of the priesthood and it
continued later with the ecumenical solicitude witnessed in the
Lutheran Church of the Most Holy Trinity.
On that occasion, together with the representatives of the
churches and ecclesial communities that live in Poland, I confirmed the
firm decision to consider the commitment for the reconstruction of full
and visible unity among Christians as an authentic priority of my
Then there was the solemn Eucharistic celebration in Pilsudski
full of people, in the center of Warsaw. This place, in which we
solemnly celebrated the Eucharist with joy, had a symbolic value, as it
had hosted historical events such as the holy Masses celebrated by John
Paul II and the funeral of the Cardinal Primate Stefan Wyszynski, as
well as some of the large celebrations for the repose of his soul in
the days after the death of my venerated predecessor.
The program could not but include a visit to the shrines that
the life of Karol Wojtyla as priest and bishop, above all three: that
of Czestochowa, of Kalwaria Zebrzidowska and of Divine Mercy. I will
not be able to forget the visit to the famous Marian shrine of Jasna
Gora. On that Clear Mountain, heart of the Polish nation, as if it were
a cenacle, very many faithful, especially men and women religious,
seminarians and representatives of the ecclesial movements, gathered
around the Successor of Peter to listen with me to Mary.
Inspired by the wonderful Marian meditation that John Paul II gave
Church in the encyclical "Redemptoris Mater," I wished to propose the
faith again as a fundamental attitude of the spirit, which is not
something merely intellectual or sentimental. Authentic faith involves
the whole person: his thoughts, affections, intentions, relationships,
corporeal nature, activity and daily work.
Later visiting the wonderful shrine of Kalwaria Zebrzydowska, near
Krakow, I prayed to Our Lady of Sorrows to support the faith of the
ecclesial community in moments of difficulty and trial; the successive
stage at the Shrine of Divine Mercy in Lagiewniki, allowed me to
emphasize that only Divine Mercy illuminates the mystery of man. In the
convent near this shrine, on contemplating the luminous wounds of the
risen Christ, Sister Faustina Kowalska received a message of confidence
for humanity, the message of Divine Mercy, which John Paul II echoed
and of which he became the interpreter. It is a really central message
for our time: Mercy as the force of God, as the divine limit against
the evil of the world.
I wished to visit other symbolic "shrines": I am referring to
the locality which has become famous because Karol Wojtyla was born and
was baptized there. The visit gave me the opportunity to thank the Lord
for the gift of this tireless servant of the Gospel. The roots of his
strong faith, of his very sensitive and open humanity, of his love of
beauty and truth, of his devotion to the Virgin, of his love of the
Church and above all of his vocation to holiness are found in this
small city in which he received his early education and formation.
Another place loved by John Paul II is Wawel Cathedral in Krakow, a
symbolic place for the Polish nation: Karol Wojtyla celebrated his
first Mass in the crypt of that cathedral.
Another very beautiful experience was the meeting with young
which took place in Krakow, in the great Blonie Park. I handed
symbolically to the numerous young people the "Flame of Mercy" so that
they will be heralds of Love and Divine Mercy in the world. With them I
meditated on the Gospel passage of the house built on the rock (cf.
Matthew 7:24-27), read also today at the beginning of this audience.
I paused to reflect also on the Word of God on Sunday morning,
solemnity of the Ascension, during the conclusive celebration of my
visit. It was a liturgical meeting animated by the extraordinary
participation of the faithful in the same park in which, the previous
night, the appointment with young people had taken place.
I took advantage of the opportunity to renew before the Polish
the wonderful proclamation of the Christian truth about man, created
and redeemed in Christ; that truth that John Paul proclaimed with vigor
on so many occasions to encourage all to remain firm in faith, hope and
love. "Stand firm in the faith." This is the instruction he has left
the children of his beloved Poland, encouraging them to persevere in
faithfulness to Christ and to the Church so that Europe and the world
will never lack the contribution of her evangelical testimony. All
Christians must feel committed to give this testimony so as to avoid
that humanity of the third millennium might again know new horrors
similar to those tragically evoked by the death camp of
In fact before returning to Rome I wished to pause in this place
known throughout the world. In the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp, as in other
similar camps, Hitler had 6 million Jews exterminated. In
Auschwitz-Birkenau some 150,000 Poles and tens of thousands of men and
women of other nationalities also died.
In the face of the horror of Auschwitz there is no other answer
the cross of Christ: Love that descends to the abyss of evil to save
man in his innermost being, where his freedom can rebel against God.
May today's humanity not forget Auschwitz and the other "death
factories" in which the Nazi regime tried to eliminate God to take his
place! May people again know that God is Father of all and that he
calls us all in Christ to build together a world of justice, truth and
peace! We want to ask this of the Lord through the intercession of
Mary, whom today, at the conclusion of the month of May, we contemplate
visiting with diligence and love her elderly relative Elizabeth.
[Translation by ZENIT]
[At the end of the audience, the Holy Father read the following
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
My recent pastoral visit to Poland followed in the footsteps of my
predecessor, Pope John Paul II, to the cities of Warsaw and Krakow. I
stopped at many places dear to the late Pope: the Marian shrine of
Jasna Gora, Kalwaria Zebrzidowska and the shrine of Divine Mercy in
Lagiewniki, as well as Wadowice, Karol Wojtyla's birthplace, and Wawel
Cathedral, where he celebrated his first Mass.
Everywhere I went, I echoed the appeal of Pope John Paul to "stand
in the faith," to make Christ the foundation of our lives, and to bear
witness to the Gospel message of man's dignity as a creature made in
the image of God.
At the death camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau, a place of horror and
inhumanity, I paid homage to the victims, including over a million Jews
and many Poles. Our only response to Auschwitz can be to contemplate
the mystery of the cross, of a love which brings salvation by freely
descending into the abyss of evil. Our world must not forget Auschwitz!
We need to turn once more to the God of love, who calls us in Christ to
build together a world of justice, truth and peace.
[The Pope then greeted pilgrims in several languages. In English,
I greet all the English-speaking visitors, especially the many
from England, Wales, Ireland, India, Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines,
Sri Lanka and the United States. I also greet the Patrons of the Arts
in the Vatican Museums visiting Rome for the 500th anniversary of the
Dear friends: I am most grateful for your efforts to preserve the
Vatican's artistic heritage, which testifies to the Church's faith, the
beauty of God's creation and the highest aspirations of the human
Upon all present at today's audience I cordially invoke an
joy and peace in the Risen Lord.
TO POLAND (May 25-28, 2006)
ADDRESS OF THE HOLY FATHER
(Warszaw, International Airport of Oke;cie, 25 May 2006)
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
My Brother Cardinals and Bishops,
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I am happy to stand in your midst today on the soil of the
Poland. I have very much wanted to make this visit to the native land
and people of my beloved Predecessor, the Servant of God John Paul II.
I have come to follow in the footsteps of his life, from his boyhood
until his departure for the memorable conclave of 1978. Along this
journey I would like to meet and come to know the generations of
believers who offered him to the service of God and the Church, as well
as those who were born and matured for the Lord under his pastoral
guidance as priest, Bishop and Pope. Our journey together will be
inspired by the motto: "Stand firm in your faith". I mention this from
the outset, in order to stress that this is no mere sentimental
journey, although it is certainly that too, but rather a journey of
faith, a part of the mission entrusted to me by the Lord in the person
of the Apostle Peter, who was called to confirm his brothers and
sisters in the faith (cf. Lk 22:32). I too wish to draw from the
abundant fountain of your faith, which has flowed continuously for over
I greet His Excellency the President, and I thank him heartily for
words of welcome on behalf of the Authorities of the Republic and the
Nation. I greet my Brother Cardinals, Archbishops and Bishops. I also
greet His Excellency the Prime Minister and the members of the
Government, the representatives of the Diet and the Senate, the members
of the Diplomatic Corps with their Dean, the Apostolic Nuncio in
Poland. I am pleased that the Regional Authorities are present, along
with the Mayor of Warsaw. I also wish to greet the representatives of
the Orthodox Church, the Augsburg Evangelical Church and the other
Churches and Ecclesial Communities. My greeting likewise goes to the
members of the Jewish community and the followers of Islam. Lastly I
offer a heartfelt greeting to the whole Church in Poland: to the
priests, the consecrated persons, the seminarians and all the faithful,
especially the sick, the young and the little children. I ask you to
accompany me in your thoughts and prayers, so that this journey will
prove fruitful for all of us, leading us to a deeper and stronger faith.
I said that in this visit to Poland my route would be inspired by
life and pastoral ministry of Karol Wojty?a and by his own itinerary as
a pilgrim Pope in this, his native land. Consequently, I have chosen to
stay mainly in two cities dear to John Paul II: Warsaw, the capital of
Poland, and Kraków, his archiepiscopal see. In Warsaw I shall
meet the priests, the different non-Catholic Churches and Ecclesial
Communities, and the State Authorities. I trust that these meetings
will bear abundant fruit for our shared faith in Christ and for the
social and political life of today’s men and women. A brief visit to
Cze;stochowa is planned, as well as a meeting with representatives of
men and women religious, seminarians and members of ecclesial
movements. The loving gaze of Mary will accompany us as we join in
seeking a deep and faithful relationship with Christ her Son. Then I
shall travel to Kraków, and from there to Wadowice, Kalwaria,
?agiewniki and Wawel Cathedral. I am very much aware that these are the
places that John Paul II most loved, for they were associated with his
growth in faith and his pastoral ministry. There will also be a meeting
with the sick and the suffering in what is perhaps the most fitting
place for such an event - the Shrine of Divine Mercy in ?agiewniki. I
shall certainly be present when the young people assemble for the
prayer vigil. I shall gladly join them and I look forward to rejoicing
in their witness of a young and lively faith. On Sunday we will gather
at B?onie Park to celebrate a Solemn Mass of Thanksgiving for the
Pontificate of my Predecessor and for the faith in which he always
confirmed us by his words and by the example of his life. Finally, I
shall go to Auschwitz. There I hope especially to meet the survivors of
the Nazi terror who come from different countries, all of whom suffered
under that tragic tyranny. Together we will pray that the wounds of the
past century will heal, thanks to the remedy that God in his goodness
has prescribed for us by calling us to forgive one another, and which
he offers to us in the mystery of his mercy.
"Stand firm in your faith" - this is the motto of my Apostolic
would hope that these days will serve to strengthen all of us in faith
- the members of the Church in Poland and myself as well. And for those
who do not have the gift of faith, but whose hearts are full of good
will, may my visit be a time of fraternity, goodness and hope. May
these enduring values of humanity lay a firm foundation for building a
better world, one in which everyone can enjoy material prosperity and
spiritual joy. This is my prayer for all the Polish people. Once again
I thank His Excellency the President and the Bishops of Poland for
their invitation. I cordially embrace Polish people everywhere and I
ask them to accompany me in prayer along this journey of faith.
ADDRESS OF THE HOLY FATHER:
MEETING WITH THE CLERGY
(Warszawa-Cathedral, 25 May 2006)
"First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you ... For
long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to
strengthen you, that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each
other’s faith, both yours and mine" (Rom 1:8-12).
Dear priests, I address to you these words of the Apostle Paul,
they perfectly reflect my feelings and thoughts today, my wishes and my
prayers. I greet in particular Cardinal Józef Glemp, Archbishop
of Warsaw and Primate of Poland, to whom I extend my most cordial
congratulations on his fiftieth anniversary of priestly ordination this
very day. I have come to Poland, the beloved homeland of my great
Predecessor Pope John Paul II, in order to inhale, as he used to do,
this atmosphere of faith in which you live, and to "convey to you some
spiritual gift so that you may be strengthened by it." I am confident
that my pilgrimage during these days will "encourage the faith that we
share, both yours and mine."
I am meeting you today in the great Cathedral of Warsaw, every
which speaks of the tragic history of your capital and your country.
How many trials you have endured in the recent past! We call to mind
heroic witnesses to the faith, who gave their lives to God and to their
fellow human beings, both canonized saints and ordinary people who
persevered in rectitude, authenticity and goodness, never giving way to
despair. In this Cathedral I recall particularly the Servant of God
Cardinal Stefan Wyszyn'ski, whom you call "the Primate of the
Millennium." Abandoning himself to Christ and to his Mother, he knew
how to serve the Church faithfully, despite the tragic and prolonged
trials that surrounded him. Let us remember with appreciation and
gratitude those who did not let themselves be overwhelmed by the forces
of darkness, and let us learn from them the courage to be consistent
and constant in our adherence to the Gospel of Christ.
Today I am meeting you, priests called by Christ to serve him in
new millennium. You have been chosen from among the people, appointed
to act in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins.
Believe in the power of your priesthood! By virtue of the sacrament,
you have received all that you are. When you utter the words "I" and
"my" ("I absolve you ... This is my body ..."), you do it not in your
own name, but in the name of Christ, "in persona Christi", who wants to
use your lips and your hands, your spirit of sacrifice and your talent.
At the moment of your ordination, through the liturgical sign of the
imposition of hands, Christ took you under his special protection; you
are concealed under his hands and in his Heart. Immerse yourselves in
his love, and give him your love! When your hands were anointed with
oil, the sign of the Holy Spirit, they were destined to serve the Lord
as his own hands in today’s world. They can no longer serve selfish
purposes, but must continue in the world the witness of his love.
The greatness of Christ’s priesthood can make us tremble. We can
tempted to cry out with Peter: "Lord, depart from me, for I am a sinful
man" (Lk 5:8), because we find it hard to believe that Christ called us
specifically. Could he not have chosen someone else, more capable, more
holy? But Jesus has looked lovingly upon each one of us, and in this
gaze of his we may have confidence. Let us not be consumed with haste,
as if time dedicated to Christ in silent prayer were time wasted. On
the contrary, it is precisely then that the most wonderful fruits of
pastoral service come to birth. 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 this regard, I am pleased to recall my experience last year in
Cologne. I witnessed then a deep, unforgettable silence of a million
young people at the moment of the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament!
That prayerful silence united us, it gave us great consolation. 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 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. With this end in
view, when a young priest takes his first steps, he needs to be able to
refer to an experienced teacher who will help him not to lose his way
among the many ideas put forward by the culture of the moment. 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. Living under the influence of
totalitarianism may have given rise to an unconscious tendency to hide
under an external mask, and in consequence to become somewhat
hypocritical. Clearly this does not promote authentic fraternal
relations and may lead to an exaggerated concentration on oneself. In
reality, we grow in affective maturity when our hearts adhere to God.
Christ needs priests who are mature, virile, capable of cultivating an
authentic spiritual paternity. For this to happen, priests need to be
honest with themselves, open with their spiritual director and trusting
in divine mercy.
On the occasion of the Great Jubilee, Pope John Paul II frequently
exhorted Christians to do penance for infidelities of the past. We
believe that the Church is holy, but that there are sinners among her
members. We need to reject the desire to identify only with those who
are sinless. How could the Church have excluded sinners from her ranks?
It is for their salvation that Jesus took flesh, died and rose again.
We must therefore learn to live Christian penance with sincerity. By
practising 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. Moreover,
the confessio peccati, to use an expression of Saint Augustine, must
always be accompanied by the confessio laudis – the confession of
praise. 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
which, even if contained in earthenware vessels, has borne fruit that
is often excellent.
Today the Church in Poland faces an enormous pastoral challenge:
care for the faithful who have left the country. The scourge of
unemployment 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. Those
who leave must be cared for by priests who, in partnership with the
local Churches, take on a pastoral ministry among the emigrants. The
Church in Poland has already given many priests and religious sisters
who serve not only the Polish diaspora but also, and sometimes in
extremely difficult circumstances, the missions in Africa, Asia, Latin
America and other regions. Do not forget these missionaries, my dear
priests. The gift of many vocations, with which God has blessed your
Church, must be received in a truly Catholic perspective. Polish
priests, do not be afraid to leave your secure and familiar world, to
go and serve in places where priests are lacking and where your
generosity can bear abundant fruit.
Stand firm in your faith! To you too I entrust this motto of my
pilgrimage. Be authentic in your life and your ministry. Gazing upon
Christ, live a modest life, in solidarity with the faithful to whom you
have been sent. 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. If you live by faith, the Holy Spirit will
suggest to you what you must say and how you must serve. You will
always be able to count on the help of her who goes before the Church
in faith. I exhort you to call upon her always in words that you know
well: "We are close to you, we remember you, we watch."
My Blessing upon all of you!
Benedict XVI's Address at
Calls Attention to 2 Questions: Service and Marriage
WARSAW, Poland, MAY 25, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican
translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered this evening at a
meeting with representatives of seven churches of the Polish Ecumenical
Council and representatives of other religions. The meeting was in the
Lutheran church of the Most Holy Trinity in Warsaw.
* * *
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
"Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to
and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus
Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler
of kings on earth" (Revelation 1:4-5). In these words with which St.
John greets the seven Churches of Asia in the Book of the Apocalypse, I
wish to address my own warm greetings to all who are present here,
especially to the representatives of the churches and ecclesial
communities affiliated to the Polish Council for Ecumenism.
I thank Archbishop Jeremiasz of the Autocephalous Orthodox Church
his greetings and his words of spiritual union addressed to me just
now. And I greet Archbishop Alfons Nossol, president of the Ecumenical
Office of the Polish bishops' conference.
What unites us here today is our desire to meet one another, and
give glory and honor to our Lord Jesus Christ in our common prayer: "to
him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made
us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father" (Revelation 1:5-6). We are
grateful to our Lord, because he gathers us together, he grants us his
Spirit and he enables us -- over and above what still separates us --
to cry out "Abba, Father."
We are convinced that it is he himself who intercedes unceasingly
our favor, pleading for us: "May they become perfectly one, so that the
world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you
have loved me" (John 17:23). 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 that I made at the beginning of my
pontificate, to consider a priority in my ministry the restoration of
full visible unity among Christians.
My beloved predecessor, the Servant of God John Paul II, stated
when he visited this Church of the Most Holy Trinity in 1991: "However
much we dedicate ourselves to work for unity, it always remains a gift
of the Holy Spirit. We will be available to receive this gift to the
extent that we open our minds and hearts to him through the Christian
life and above all through prayer."
In fact, it is impossible for us to "make" unity through our own
alone. As I recalled during last year's ecumenical encounter in
Cologne: "We can only obtain unity as a gift of the Holy Spirit." For
this reason, our ecumenical aspirations must be steeped in prayer, in
mutual forgiveness and in the holiness of life of each of us. I express
my satisfaction at the fact that here in Poland, the Polish Council for
Ecumenism and the Roman Catholic Church have launched numerous
initiatives in this area.
"Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him"
(Revelation 1:7). The words of the Apocalypse remind us that we are all
on a journey toward the definitive encounter with Christ, when he will
reveal before our eyes the meaning of human history, whose center is
the cross of his saving sacrifice. As a community of disciples, we are
directed toward that encounter, filled with hope and trust that it will
be for us the day of salvation, the day when all our longings are
fulfilled, thanks to our readiness to let ourselves be guided by the
mutual charity which his Spirit calls forth within us.
Let us build this trust not on our own merits, but on the prayer
which Christ reveals the meaning of his coming on earth and of his
redeeming death: "Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given
me, may be with me where I am, to behold my glory which you have given
me in your love for me before the foundation of the world" (John
17:24). On our journey toward the encounter with Christ who "is coming
with the clouds," through our lives we announce his death, we proclaim
his resurrection, as we wait for him to come again.
We feel the weight of the responsibility which all this entails;
message of Christ, in fact, 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 (cf. John 17:23). As we
proclaim the Gospel, then, we must be moved by the aspiration to
cultivate mutual relations of sincere charity, in such a way that, in
the light of these, all may know that the Father sent the Son and that
he loves the Church and each one of us just as he loved the Son (cf.
John 17:23). The task of Christ's disciples, the task of each of us, is
therefore to tend toward that unity, in such a way that we become, as
Christians, the visible sign of his saving message, addressed to every
Allow me to recall once more the ecumenical encounter that took
in this church with the participation of your great compatriot John
Paul II, and his address, in which he outlined as follows his vision of
the efforts directed toward the full unity of Christians: "The
challenge that we face is to overcome the obstacles step by step ...
and to grow together in that unity of Christ which is one only, the
unity with which he endowed the Church from the beginning. 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
toward peace and unity among all Christians. We know very well that it
is not we who will heal the wounds of division and re-establish unity;
we are simple instruments that God will be able to employ. Unity among
Christians will be a gift of God, in his time of grace. Let us humbly
tend toward that day, growing in love, in mutual forgiveness and in
Since that encounter, much has changed. God has granted us to take
steps toward mutual understanding and rapprochement. Allow me to recall
to your attention some ecumenical events which have taken place in the
world during that time: 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 meeting on the occasion of the Great
Jubilee of the Year 2000 and the ecumenical memorial of 20th-century
witnesses of faith; the resumption of Catholic-Orthodox dialogue at
world level; the funeral of Pope John Paul II with the participation of
almost all churches and ecclesial communities.
I am aware of the fact that here too, in Poland, this fraternal
aspiration toward unity can boast concrete successes. I would like to
mention at this time: the signing in the year 2000 in this very church,
on the part of the Roman Catholic Church and the churches affiliated to
the Polish Council for Ecumenism, of the declaration of the mutual
recognition of the validity of baptism; the institution of the
Commission for Dialogue of the Polish episcopal conference and the
Polish Council for Ecumenism, to which the Catholic bishops and the
heads of other churches belong; the institution of the bilateral
commissions for theological dialogue between Catholics and Orthodox,
Lutherans, members of the Polish National Church, Mariavites and
Adventists; the publication of the ecumenical translation of the New
Testament and the Book of Psalms; the initiative called "Aid for
Children at Christmas," in which the charitable organizations of the
Churches work together: Catholic, Orthodox and evangelical.
We note much progress in the field of ecumenism and yet we always
something more. Allow me to draw attention to two questions for today,
in somewhat greater detail. The first concerns the charitable service
of the churches. There are many brothers and sisters who expect from us
the gift of love, of trust, of witness, of spiritual and concrete
material help. I referred to this problem in my first encyclical, "Deus
Caritas Est," in which I said: "Love of neighbor, grounded in the love
of God, is first and foremost a responsibility for each individual
member of the faithful, but it is also a responsibility for the entire
ecclesial community at every level: from the local community to the
particular Church and to the Church universal in its entirety. As a
community, the Church must practice love" (No. 20).
We cannot forget the essential idea that from the outset
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" (ibid.). This idea
is always current, even if in the course of the centuries the forms of
fraternal aid have changed; accepting contemporary charitable
challenges depends in large measure on our mutual cooperation. I
rejoice that this problem finds a vast resonance in the world in the
form of numerous ecumenical initiatives.
I note with appreciation that in the community of the Catholic
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 (cf. ibid., 30b). It seems that, despite all the
differences that need to be overcome in the sphere of
interdenominational dialogue, it is legitimate to attribute charitable
engagement to the ecumenical community of Christ's disciples in search
of full unity. We can all enter into cooperation in favor of the needy,
exploiting this network of reciprocal relations, the fruit of dialogue
between ourselves and of joint action.
In the spirit of the Gospel commandment we must assume this
solicitude toward those in need, whoever they may be. In this regard, I
wrote in my encyclical that "the building of a better world requires
Christians to speak with a united voice in working to inculcate
?respect for the rights and needs of everyone, especially the poor, the
lowly and the defenseless'" (no. 30b). To all those who are taking part
in our encounter today I express the wish that the practice of
fraternal caritas will bring us ever closer to one another and will
render our witness in favor of Christ more credible before the world.
The second question to which I want to refer concerns married life
family life. We know that among Christian communities, called to
witness to love, the family occupies a special place. 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. For the young people themselves and for those dear to
them, it is often a difficult decision that brings with it various
dangers concerning both perseverance in the faith and the future
structuring of the family, the creation of an atmosphere of unity in
the family and of suitable conditions for the spiritual growth of the
Nevertheless, thanks to the spread of ecumenical dialogue on a
scale, the decision can lead to the formation of a practical laboratory
of unity. For this to happen there is a need for mutual good will,
understanding and maturity in faith of both parties, and also of the
communities from which they come. I would like to express my
appreciation for the Bilateral Commission of the Council for Ecumenical
Issues of the Polish episcopal conference and of 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. To all of you I express the wish that in this delicate area
reciprocal trust and cooperation between the churches may grow, fully
respecting the rights and responsibility of the spouses for the faith
formation of their own family and the education of their children.
"I made known to them your name, and I will make it known, that
love with which you loved me may be in them, and I in them" (John
17:26). Brothers and sisters, placing all our trust in Christ, who
makes his name known to us, let us walk every day toward the fullness
of fraternal reconciliation. May his prayer cause the community of his
disciples on earth, in its mystery and in its visible unity, to become
ever more a community of love reflecting the unity of the Father, the
Son and the Holy Spirit.
[Original text: Polish]
MASS IN PILSUDZKI SQUARE
Warsaw, 26 May 2006
Praised be Jesus Christ!
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ our Lord, “Together with you I
to sing a hymn of praise to divine Providence, which enables me to be
here as a pilgrim.” Twenty-seven years ago, my beloved
predecessor Pope John Paul II began his homily in Warsaw with these
words. I make them my own, and I thank the Lord who has enabled
me to come here today to this historic Square. Here, 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.” This very
place witnessed the solemn funeral ceremony of the great Primate of
Poland, Cardinal Stefan Wyszyn'ski, whose twenty-fifth anniversary
occurs during these days.
God united these two men not only through the same faith, hope and
love, but also through the same human vicissitudes, which linked each
of them so strongly to the history of this people and of the Church
that lives in their midst. At the beginning of his Pontificate,
Pope John Paul II wrote to Cardinal Wyszyn'ski: “This Polish Pope
would not be on the Chair of Peter today, beginning a new Pontificate,
full of the fear of God, but also full of trust, had it not been for
your faith, which did not bend in the face of imprisonment and
suffering, your heroic hope, your trusting to the end in the Mother of
the Church; had it not been for Jasna Góra and this whole
period of the history of the Church in our homeland, linked to your
service as Bishop and Primate” (Letter of Pope John Paul II to the
Polish People, 23 October 1978). 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. “Let us not forget the great works of
God” (cf. Ps 78:7). I thank you too for your presence and for
your prayer. I thank the Cardinal Primate for the words that he
addressed to me. I greet all the Bishops here present. I am
glad that the President and the Authorities of national and local
government could be here. I embrace with my heart all the Polish
people both at home and abroad.
“Stand firm in your faith!” We have just heard the words of
Jesus: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And
I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Counsellor, to be
with you for ever, the Spirit of truth” (Jn 14:15-17a). With
these words Jesus reveals the profound link between faith and the
profession of Divine Truth, between faith and dedication to Jesus
Christ in love, between faith and the practice of a life inspired by
the commandments. All three dimensions of faith are the fruit of
the action of the Holy Spirit. This action is manifested as an
inner force that harmonizes the hearts of the disciples with the Heart
of Christ and makes them capable of loving as he loved them.
Hence faith is a gift, but at the same time it is a task.
“He will give you another Counsellor – the Spirit of truth.”
Faith, as knowledge and profession of the truth about God and about
man, “comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes by the
preaching of Christ”, as Saint Paul says (Rom 10:17). Throughout
the history of the Church, the Apostles preached the word of Christ,
taking care to hand it on intact to their successors, who in their turn
transmitted it to subsequent generations until our own day. Many
preachers of the Gospel gave their lives specifically because of their
faithfulness to the truth of the word of Christ. And so
solicitude for the truth gave birth to the Church’s Tradition. As
in past centuries, so also today there are people or groups who obscure
this centuries-old 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. They try to give the impression
that everything is relative: even the truths of faith would
depend on the historical situation and on human evaluation. Yet
the Church cannot silence the Spirit of Truth. The successors of
the Apostles, together with the Pope, are responsible for the truth of
the Gospel, and all Christians are called to share in this
responsibility, accepting its authoritative indications. 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, dead and risen for our salvation.
Christ says: “If you love me ... ” Faith does not just
accepting a certain number of abstract truths about the mysteries of
God, of man, of life and death, of future realities. Faith
consists in an intimate relationship with Christ, a relationship based
on love of him who loved us first (cf. 1 Jn 4:11), even to the total
offering of himself. “God shows his love for us in that while we
were yet sinners Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8). What other
response can we give to a love so great, if not that of a heart that is
open and ready to love? But what does it mean to love
Christ? It means trusting him even in times of trial, following
him faithfully even on the Via Crucis, in the hope that soon the
morning of the Resurrection will come. Entrusting ourselves to
Christ, we lose nothing, we gain everything. In his hands our
life acquires its true meaning. Love for Christ expresses itself
in the will to harmonize our own life with the thoughts and sentiments
of his Heart. This is achieved through interior union based on
the grace of the Sacraments, strengthened by continuous prayer, praise,
thanksgiving and penance. We have to listen attentively to the
inspirations that he evokes through his Word, through the people we
meet, through the situations of daily life. To love him is to
remain in dialogue with him, in order to know his will and to put it
into effect promptly.
Yet living one’s personal faith as a love-relationship with Christ
means being ready to renounce everything that constitutes a denial of
his love. That is why Jesus said to the Apostles: “If you
love me, you will keep my commandments.” But what are Christ’s
commandments? When the Lord Jesus was teaching the crowds, he did
not fail to confirm the law which the Creator had inscribed on men’s
hearts and had then formulated on the tablets of the Decalogue.
“Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets;
I have come not to abolish them but to fulfil them. For truly, I
say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot,
will pass from the law until all is accomplished” (Mt 5:17-18).
But Jesus showed us with a new clarity the unifying centre of the
divine laws revealed on Sinai, namely love of God and love of
neighbour: “To love [God] with all the heart, and with all the
understanding, and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbour
as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices”
(Mk 12:33). Indeed, in his life and in his Paschal Mystery Jesus
brought the entire law to completion. Uniting himself with us
through the gift of the Holy Spirit, he carries with us and in us the
“yoke” of the law, which thereby becomes a “light burden” (Mt
11:30). In this spirit, Jesus formulated his list of the inner
qualities of those who seek to live their faith deeply: Blessed
are the poor in spirit, those who weep, the meek, those who hunger and
thirst for justice, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers,
those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake ... (cf. Mt 5:3-12).
Dear brothers and sisters, faith as adherence to Christ is
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 other human being and into everything that exists in the
world. Whoever believes and loves in this way becomes a builder
of the true “civilization of love”, of which Christ is the
centre. Twenty-seven years ago, in this place, Pope John Paul II
said: “Poland has become nowadays the land of a particularly
responsible witness” (Warsaw, 2 June 1979). I ask you now,
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. May Mary, Queen of Poland, show you the way to her Son,
and may she accompany you on your journey towards a happy, peace-filled
future. May your hearts never be wanting in love for Christ and
for his Church. Amen!
Papal Address in Czestochowa
"Place Yourselves in the School of Mary"
WARSAW, Poland, MAY 26, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is the Vatican
translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered today to men and
women religious, seminarians and representatives of ecclesial movements
in Jasna Gora, Czestochowa.
* * *
Dear men and women religious, consecrated persons, who moved by
voice of Jesus, have followed him out of love!
Dear seminarians, who are preparing yourselves for the priestly
Dear representatives of ecclesial movements, who bring the power
Gospel to your families, to your workplaces, to universities, to the
world of media and culture, to your parishes!
Just as the apostles together with Mary "went to the Upper Room"
there "with one accord devoted themselves to prayer" (Acts 1:12,14), so
we too have come together today at Jasna Gora, which for us at this
hour is the "upper room" where Mary, the Mother of the Lord, is among
us. Today it is she who leads our meditation; she teaches us how to
pray. Mary shows us how to open our minds and our hearts to the power
of the Holy Spirit, who comes to us so as to be brought to the whole
We need a moment of silence and recollection to place ourselves in
school, so that she may teach us how to live from faith, how to grow in
faith, how to remain in contact with the mystery of God in the
ordinary, everyday events of our lives. With feminine tact and with
"the ability to combine penetrating intuition with words of support and
encouragement" (John Paul II, "Redemptoris Mater," No. 46), Mary
sustained the faith of Peter and the apostles in the Upper Room, and
today she sustains my faith and your faith.
"Faith is contact with the mystery of God" (John Paul II,
Mater," No. 17), because "to believe means 'to abandon oneself' to the
truth of the word of the living God, knowing and humbly recognizing
'how unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways'"
(John Paul II, "Redemptoris Mater," No. 14).
Faith is the gift, given to us in baptism, which makes our
with God possible. God is hidden in mystery; to claim to understand him
would mean to want to confine him within our thinking and knowing and
consequently to lose him irremediably. With faith, however, we can open
up a way through concepts, even theological concepts, and can "touch"
the living God. And God, once touched, immediately gives us his power.
When we abandon ourselves to the living God, when in humility of mind
we have recourse to him, a kind of hidden stream of divine life
pervades us. How important it is to believe in the power of faith, in
its capacity to establish a close bond with the living God!
We must give great attention to the development of our faith, so
it truly pervades all our attitudes, thoughts, actions and intentions.
Faith has a place, not only in our state of soul and religious
experiences, but above all in thought and action, in everyday work, in
the struggle against ourselves, in community life and in the
apostolate, because it ensures that our life is pervaded by the power
of God himself. Faith can always bring us back to God even when our sin
leads us astray.
In the Upper Room the apostles did not know what awaited them.
were afraid and worried about their own future. They continued to
marvel at the death and resurrection of Jesus and were in anguish at
being left on their own after his ascension into Heaven. Mary, "she who
believed in the fulfillment of the Lord's words" (cf. Luke 1:45),
assiduous in prayer alongside the apostles, taught perseverance in the
faith. By her own attitude she convinced them that the Holy Spirit, in
his wisdom, knew well the path on which he was leading them, and that
consequently they could place their confidence in God, giving
themselves to him unreservedly, with their talents, their limitations
and their future.
Many of you here present have experienced this secret call of the
Spirit and have responded with complete generosity of heart. The love
of Jesus "poured into your hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been
given to you" (cf. Romans 5:5), has shown you the way of the
consecrated life. It was not you who looked for it. It was Jesus who
called you, inviting you to a more profound union with him.
In the sacrament of holy baptism you renounced Satan and his works
received the necessary graces for a Christian life and for holiness.
From that moment the grace of faith has blossomed within you and has
enabled you to be united with God. At the moment of your religious
profession or promises, faith led you to a total adherence to the
mystery of the Heart of Jesus, whose treasures you have discovered. You
then renounced such good things as disposing freely of your life,
having a family, acquiring possessions, so as to be free to give
yourselves without reserve to Christ and to his Kingdom.
Do you remember your enthusiasm when you began the pilgrimage of
consecrated life, trusting in the grace of God? Try not to lose this
first fervor, and let Mary lead you to an ever fuller adherence. Dear
men and women religious, dear consecrated persons! Whatever the mission
entrusted to you, whatever cloistered or apostolic service you are
engaged in, maintain in your hearts the primacy of your consecrated
life. Let it renew your faith. The consecrated life, lived in faith,
unites you closely to God, calls forth charisms and confers an
extraordinary fruitfulness to your service.
Dear candidates to the priesthood! So much can be gained by
on the way Mary learned from Jesus! From her very first "fiat," through
the long, ordinary years of the hidden life, as she brought up Jesus,
or when at Cana in Galilee she asked for the first sign, or when
finally on Calvary, by the cross, she looked on Jesus, she "learned"
him moment by moment. Firstly in faith and then in her womb, she
received the Body of Jesus and then gave birth to him. Day after day,
enraptured, she adored him. She served him with solicitous love,
singing the Magnificat in her heart.
On your journey of preparation, and in your future priestly
let Mary guide you as you "learn" Jesus. Keep your eyes fixed on him.
Let him form you, so that in your ministry you will be able to show him
to all who approach you. When you take into your hands the Eucharistic
Body of Jesus so as to nourish his people, and when you assume
responsibility for that part of the Mystical Body which will be
entrusted to you, remember the attitude of wonder and adoration which
characterized Mary's faith.
As she in her solicitous, maternal love for Jesus, preserved her
virginal love filled with wonder, so also you, as you genuflect at the
moment of consecration, preserve in your soul the ability to wonder and
to adore. Know how to recognize in the People of God entrusted to you
the signs of Christ's presence. Be mindful and attentive to the signs
of holiness which God will show you among the faithful. Do not fear
future duties or the unknown! Do not fear that words will fail you or
that you will encounter rejection! The world and the Church need
priests, holy priests.
Dear representatives of the new movements in the Church, the
of your communities is a sign of the Holy Spirit's active presence! It
is from the faith of the Church and from the richness of the fruits of
the Holy Spirit that your mission has been born. My prayer is that you
will grow ever more numerous so as to serve the cause of the Kingdom of
God in today's world. Believe in the grace of God which accompanies you
and bring it into the living fabric of the Church, especially in places
the priest or religious cannot reach.
The movements you belong to are many. You are nourished by
schools of spirituality recognized by the Church. Draw upon the wisdom
of the saints, have recourse to the heritage they have left us. Form
your minds and your hearts on the works of the great masters and
witnesses of the faith, knowing that the schools of spirituality must
not be a treasure locked up in convents or libraries.
The Gospel wisdom, contained in the writings of the great saints
attested to in their lives, must be brought in a mature way, not
childishly or aggressively, to the world of culture and work, to the
world of the media and politics, to the world of family and social
life. The authenticity of your faith and mission, which does not draw
attention to itself but truly radiates faith and love, can be tested by
measuring it against Mary's faith. Mirror yourselves in her heart.
Remain in her school!
When the Apostles, filled with the Holy Spirit, went out to the
world proclaiming the Gospel, one of them, John, the apostle of love,
took Mary into his home (cf. John 19:27). It was precisely because of
his profound bond with Jesus and with Mary, that he could so
effectively insist on the truth that "God is love" (1 John 4:8,16).
These were the words that I placed at the beginning of the first
encyclical of my pontificate: "Deus caritas est!" This is the most
important, most central truth about God. To all for whom it is
difficult to believe in God, I say again today: "God is love." Dear
friends, be witnesses to this truth. You will surely be so if you place
yourselves in the school of Mary. Beside her you will experience for
yourselves that God is love, and you will transmit this message to the
world with the richness and the variety that the Holy Spirit will know
how to enkindle.
Praised be Jesus Christ.
[Original text: Polish]
Benedict XVI's Message to
John Paul II "Is Among Us"
WARSAW, Poland, MAY 26, 2006 (ZENIT.org).- Here is a Vatican
translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered today around 9 p.m.
from the window of the archbishop's residence in Krakow, where he is
* * *
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Following the practice which arose during Pope John Paul II's
Krakow, you have gathered in front of the archbishop's residence to
greet the Pope. Thank you for being here and for your warm welcome.
I know that on the second of every month, at the hour of my
predecessor's death, you come together here to commemorate him and to
pray for his elevation to the honors of the altars. This prayer
supports those working on his cause, and enriches your hearts with
every grace. During his last visit to Poland, John Paul II said to you
with regard to the passing of time: "We cannot remedy it. There is only
one remedy. It is the Lord Jesus. 'I am the resurrection and the life'
means -- notwithstanding old age, notwithstanding death -- youthfulness
is found in God. This is my wish for you: for all the young of Krakow,
of Poland, and of the world" (Aug. 17, 2002).
This was his faith, his firm conviction, his witness. And today,
despite death, he -- youthful in God -- is among us. He invites us to
reinvigorate the grace of faith, to be renewed in the Spirit and to
"put on the new nature, created after the likeness of God, in the
uprightness and holiness of the truth" (Ephesians 4:24).
I thank you once again for wishing to be with me this evening.
pass on my greetings and blessing to the members of your families and
to your friends. Thank you!
[Blessing in Latin]
[original text in Polish; translation issued by the Holy See;
Papal Address in John Paul
His "Love for the Church Was Born Here"
VATICAN CITY, MAY 28, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican
of the address Benedict XVI delivered Saturday in Rynek Square in
Wadowice, after visiting the Wojtyla family home, birthplace of the
future Pope John Paul II.
* * *
Beloved Brothers and Sisters,
I am filled with emotion in the birthplace of my great
Servant of God John Paul II, in this town of his childhood and young
adult life. Indeed, I could not omit Wadowice as I make this pilgrimage
in Poland following in his footsteps. I wished to stop precisely here,
in the place where his faith began and matured, to pray together with
all of you that he may soon be elevated to the glory of the altars.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the great German poet, said: "He who
to understand a poet should visit his native land." This is also true
for those who wish to understand the life and ministry of John Paul II;
it is necessary to come to the city of his birth. He himself confessed
that here, in Wadowice, "everything began: life, studies, the theater
and the priesthood" (Wadowice, June 16, 1999).
John Paul II, returning to his beginnings, often referred to a
that of the baptismal font, to which he himself gave special veneration
in the Church of Wadowice. In 1979, during his first pilgrimage in
Poland he stated: "In this baptismal font, on June 20, 1920, I was
given the grace to become a son of God, together with faith in my
Redeemer, and I was welcomed into the community of the Church. I have
already solemnly kissed this baptismal font in the year of the
millennium of the baptism of Poland, when I was archbishop of Krakow. I
kissed it again on the 50th anniversary of my baptism, when I was a
cardinal, and today I kiss this baptismal font for the third time, as I
come from Rome as the Successor of St. Peter" (Wadowice, June 7, 1979).
It seems that in these words of John Paul II is contained the key
understanding the consistency of his faith, the radicalism of his
Christian life and the desire for sanctity that he continuously
manifested. Here is the profound awareness of divine grace, the
unconditional love of God for man, that by means of water and the Holy
Spirit places the catechumen among the multitude of his children, who
are redeemed by the Blood of Christ.
The way of an authentically Christian life equals faithfulness to
promises of holy baptism. The watchword of this pilgrimage: "Stand firm
in your faith," finds in this place its concrete dimension that can be
expressed with the exhortation: "Stand firm in the observance of your
baptismal promises." A witness of just such a faith -- of whom this
place speaks in a very special way -- is the Servant of God John Paul
My great predecessor indicated the basilica of Wadowice, his home
parish, as a place of particular importance for the development of his
spiritual life and the priestly vocation that was manifesting itself
within him. He once stated: "In this church I made my first confession
and received my first holy Communion. Here I was an altar boy. Here I
gave thanks to God for the gift of the priesthood and, as archbishop of
Krakow, I celebrated the 25th anniversary of my ordination to the
priesthood. God alone, the giver of every grace, knows what goodness
and what manifold graces I received from this church and from this
parish community. To him, the Triune God, I give glory today at the
doors of this church" (Wadowice, June 16, 1999).
The church is a sign of the communion of believers united by the
presence of God who dwells in their midst. This community is the Church
Pope John Paul II loved. His love for the Church was born in the parish
of Wadowice. In it he experienced the sacramental life, evangelization
and the formation of a mature faith. For this reason, as a priest, as a
bishop and as Pope, he treated parochial communities with such great
care. In the spirit of that same solicitude, during the visit "ad
limina apostolorum," I asked the Polish bishops to do everything
possible to ensure that the Polish parish would truly be an "ecclesial
community" and a "family of the Church."
In conclusion, let me recall once again a characteristic of the
and spirituality of John Paul II, which is united to this place. He
himself remembered many times the deep attachment of the inhabitants of
Wadowice to the local image of Our Lady of Perpetual Help and the
custom of daily prayer in front of her by the schoolchildren. This
memory helps us arrive at the source of the conviction that nourished
John Paul II -- the conviction regarding the exceptional place that the
Mother of God had in his life, a conviction that he himself, filled
with devotion, expressed in the motto "Totus tuus." Until the last
moments of his earthly pilgrimage he remained faithful to this
In the spirit of this devotion, before this image I wish to give
to God for the pontificate of John Paul II and, like him, I ask that
Our Lady watch over the Church which, by the will of God, has been
entrusted to me to guide. I also ask all of you, dear brothers and
sisters, to pray for me just as you prayed for your great fellow
countryman. From the depths of my heart, I bless all of you present
here today and all those who come to Wadowice to draw from the font of
the spirit of faith of John Paul II.
[Original text in Polish; translation issued by the Holy See]
Pope's Words at Kalwaria
To Pray for John Paul II "as He Requested"
VATICAN CITY, MAY 28, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is the Vatican
translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered Saturday when
visiting the Shrine of Our Lady of Kalwaria, entrusted to the
Franciscan Order of Friars Minor.
* * *
Dear Franciscan Fathers,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
During his first journey to Poland, Pope John Paul II visited this
shrine and dedicated his address to the topic of prayer. At the
conclusion he said: "I ask you to pray for me here during my life and
after my death." Today, I wanted to pause for a moment in the Chapel of
the Blessed Virgin Mary and, with gratitude, to pray for him as he
requested. Following the example of John Paul II, I also turn to you,
kindly asking that you pray for me and for all the Church.
I would also like to say, as dear Cardinal Stanislaw said, that I
Divine Providence will soon concede the beatification and canonization
of our beloved Pope John Paul II.
[Blessing in Latin]
[Original text in Polish; translation issued by the Holy See]
Address to the Sick at
"You Are Eloquent Witnesses of God's Mercy"
KRAKOW, Poland, MAY 28, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI visited
Shrine of Divine Mercy in Lagiewniki on Saturday, after his visit to
the Shrine of Our Lady of Kalwaria.
At Lagiewniki the Pope prayed at the tomb of St. Faustina
where Karol Wojtyla often went as a laborer and later as an underground
Benedict XVI then went to the basilica, where 800 sick people
him. Here is a Vatican translation of his address to them.
* * *
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I am very pleased to be able to meet you during my visit here to
Shrine of Divine Mercy. I extend heartfelt greetings to all of you: to
the sick, their caretakers, the priests engaged in pastoral ministry at
the shrine, to the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy, to the members of the
Faustinum and to all those present.
On this occasion we encounter two mysteries: the mystery of human
suffering and the mystery of Divine Mercy. At first sight these two
mysteries seem to be opposed to one another. But when we study them
more deeply in the light of faith, we find that they are placed in
reciprocal harmony through the mystery of the Cross of Christ. As Pope
John Paul II said in this place: "the Cross is the most profound bowing
down of the Divinity toward man … the Cross is like a touch of eternal
love on the most painful wounds of humanity's earthly existence" (Aug.
Dear friends who are sick, who are marked by suffering in body or
you are most closely united to the Cross of Christ, and at the same
time, you are the most eloquent witnesses of God's mercy. Through you
and through your suffering, he bows down toward humanity with love. You
who say in silence: "Jesus, I trust in you" teach us that there is no
faith more profound, no hope more alive and no love more ardent than
the faith, hope and love of a person who in the midst of suffering
places himself securely in God's hands. May the human hands of those
who care for you in the name of mercy be an extension of the open hands
I would so willingly embrace each one of you. But since this is
impossible, I draw you spiritually to my heart, and I impart my
blessing in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy
[Original text in Polish; translation issued by the Holy See]
Address to Young People in
"Do Not Be Afraid to Lean on Christ"
KRAKOW, Poland, MAY 28, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is the address
XVI delivered Saturday to close to 1 million young people gathered in
* * *
Dear Young Friends,
I offer all of you my warmest welcome! Your presence makes me
thank the Lord for this cordial meeting. We know that "where two or
three are gathered in the name of Jesus, he is in their midst" (cf.
Matthew 18:20). Today, you are much more numerous! Accordingly, Jesus
is here with us. He is present among the young people of Poland,
speaking to them of a house that will never collapse because it is
built on the rock. This is the Gospel that we have just heard (cf.
My friends, in the heart of every man there is the desire for a
Even more so in the young person's heart there is a great longing for a
proper house, a stable house, one to which he cannot only return with
joy, but where every guest who arrives can be joyfully welcomed. There
is a yearning for a house where the daily bread is love, pardon and
It is a place where the truth is the source out of which flows
heart. There is a longing for a house you can be proud of, where you
need not be ashamed and where you never fear its loss. These longings
are simply the desire for a full, happy and successful life. Do not be
afraid of this desire! Do not run away from this desire! Do not be
discouraged at the sight of crumbling houses, frustrated desires and
faded longings. God the Creator, who inspires in young hearts an
immense yearning for happiness, will not abandon you in the difficult
construction of the house called life.
My friends, this brings about a question: "How do we build this
Without doubt, this is a question that you have already faced many
times and that you will face many times more. Every day you must look
into your heart and ask: "How do I build that house called life?"
Jesus, whose words we just heard in the passage from the Evangelist
Matthew, encourages us to build on the rock. In fact, it is only in
this way that the house will not crumble.
But what does it mean to build a house on the rock?
Building on the rock means, first of all, to build on Christ and
Christ. Jesus says: "Every one then who hears these words of mine and
does them will be like a wise man who built his house upon the rock"
(Matthew 7:24). These are not just the empty words of some person or
another; these are the words of Jesus. We are not listening to any
person: We are listening to Jesus. We are not asked to commit to just
anything; we are asked to commit ourselves to the words of Jesus. To
build on Christ and with Christ means to build on a foundation that is
called "crucified love."
It means to build with Someone who, knowing us better than we know
ourselves, says to us: "You are precious in my eyes and honored, and I
love you" (Isaiah 43:4).
It means to build with Someone, who is always faithful, even when
are lacking in faith, because he cannot deny himself (cf. 2 Timothy
It means to build with Someone who constantly looks down on the
heart of man and says: "I do not condemn you, go and do not sin again"
(cf. John 8:11).
It means to build with Someone who, from the cross, extends his
and repeats for all eternity: "O man, I give my life for you because I
In short, building on Christ means basing all your desires,
aspirations, dreams, ambitions and plans on his will. It means saying
to yourself, to your family, to your friends, to the whole world and,
above all to Christ: "Lord, in life I wish to do nothing against you,
because you know what is best for me. Only you have the words of
eternal life" (cf. John 6:68). My friends, do not be afraid to lean on
Christ! Long for Christ, as the foundation of your life! Enkindle
within you the desire to build your life on him and for him! Because no
one who depends on the crucified love of the Incarnate Word can ever
To build on the rock means to build on Christ and with Christ, who
the rock. In the First Letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul, speaking of
the journey of the chosen people through the desert, explains that all
"drank from the supernatural rock, which followed them, and the rock
was Christ" (1 Corinthians 10:4). The fathers of the Chosen People
certainly did not know that the rock was Christ. They were not aware of
being accompanied by him who in the fullness of time would become
incarnate and take on a human body. They did not need to understand
that their thirst would be satiated by the very Source of life, capable
of offering the living water which quenches every heart.
Nonetheless, they drank from this spiritual rock that is Christ,
because they yearned for this living water, and needed it. On the road
of life we may sometimes not be aware of Jesus' presence. However, it
is really this presence, living and true, in the work of creation, in
the Word of God and in the Eucharist, in the community of believers and
in every man redeemed by the precious Blood of Christ, which is the
inexhaustible source of human strength.
Jesus of Nazareth, God made Man, is beside us during the good
the bad times and he thirsts for this relationship, which is, in
reality, the foundation of authentic humanity. We read in the Book of
Revelation these important words: "Behold, I stand at the door and
knock; if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come to him
and eat with him, and he with me" (Revelation 3:20).
My friends, what does it mean to build on the rock? Building on
rock also means building on Someone who was rejected. St. Peter speaks
to the faithful of Christ as a "living stone rejected by men but in
God's sight chosen and precious" (1 Peter 2:4).
The undeniable fact of the election of Jesus by God does not
the mystery of evil, whereby man is able to reject him who has loved to
the very end. This rejection of Jesus by man, which St. Peter mentions,
extends throughout human history, even to our own time.
One does not need great mental acuity to be aware of the many ways
rejecting Christ, even on our own doorstep. Often, Jesus is ignored, he
is mocked and he is declared a king of the past who is not for today
and certainly not for tomorrow. He is relegated to a storeroom of
questions and persons one dare not mention publicly in a loud voice. If
in the process of building the house of your life you encounter those
who scorn the foundation on which you are building, do not be
discouraged! A strong faith must endure tests. A living faith must
always grow. Our faith in Jesus Christ, to be such, must frequently
face others' lack of faith.
Dear friends, what does it mean to build on the rock?
Building on the rock means being aware that there will be
Christ says: "The rain fell and the floods came, and the winds blew and
beat upon the house ..." (Matthew 7:25).
These natural phenomena are not only an image of the many
of the human lot, but they also indicate that such misfortunes are
normally to be expected. Christ does not promise that a downpour will
never inundate a house under construction, he does not promise that a
devastating wave will never sweep away that which is most dear to us,
he does not promise that strong winds will never carry away what we
have built, sometimes with enormous sacrifice.
Christ not only understands man's desire for a lasting house, but
also fully aware of all that can wreck man's happiness. Do not be
surprised therefore by misfortunes, whatever they may be! Do not be
discouraged by them! An edifice built on the rock is not the same as a
building removed from the forces of nature, which are inscribed in the
mystery of man. To have built on rock means being able to count on the
knowledge that at difficult times there is a reliable force upon which
you can trust.
My friends, allow me to ask again: What does it mean to build on
It means to build wisely. It is not without reason that Jesus
those who hear his words and put them into practice to a wise man who
has built his house on the rock. It is foolish, in fact, to build on
sand, when you can do so on rock and therefore have a house that is
capable of withstanding every storm. It is foolish to build a house on
ground that that does not offer the guarantee of support during the
most difficult times.
Maybe it is easier to base one's life on the shifting sands of
own worldview, building a future far from the word of Jesus and
sometimes even opposed to it. Be assured that he who builds in this way
is not prudent, because he wants to convince himself and others that in
his life no storm will rage and no wave will strike his house. To be
wise means to know that the solidity of a house depends on the choice
of foundation. Do not be afraid to be wise; that is to say, do not be
afraid to build on the rock!
My friends, once again: What does it mean to build on the rock?
Building on the rock also means to build on Peter and with Peter.
fact the Lord said to him: "You are Peter, and on this rock I will
build my Church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it"
(Matthew 16:18). If Christ, the Rock, the living and precious stone,
calls his Apostle "rock," it means that he wants Peter, and together
with him the entire Church, to be a visible sign of the one Savior and
Here, in Krakow, the beloved city of my predecessor John Paul II,
one is astonished by the words "to build with Peter and on Peter." For
this reason I say to you: Do not be afraid to build your life on the
Church and with the Church. You are all proud of the love you have for
Peter and for the Church entrusted to him. Do not be fooled by those
who want to play Christ against the Church.
There is one foundation on which it is worthwhile to build a
This foundation is Christ. There is only one rock on which it is
worthwhile to place everything. This rock is the one to whom Christ
said: "You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church" (Matthew
Young people, you know well the Rock of our times. Accordingly, do
forget: Neither that Peter who is watching our gathering from the
window of God the Father, nor this Peter who is now standing in front
of you, nor any successive Peter will ever be opposed to you or the
building of a lasting house on the rock. Indeed, he will offer his
heart and his hands to help you construct a life on Christ and with
Dear friends, meditating on Christ's words describing the rock as
adequate foundation for a house, we cannot help but notice that the
last word is a hopeful one. Jesus says that, notwithstanding the
harshness of the elements, the house is not destroyed, because it was
built on the rock.
In his word there is an extraordinary confidence in the strength
foundation, a faith that does not fear contradictions because it is
confirmed by the death and resurrection of Christ. This is the faith
that years later was professed by St. Peter in his letter: "Behold, I
am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and he
who believes in him will not be put to shame" (1 Peter 2:6).
Certainly "he will not be put to shame."
Dear young friends, the fear of failure can at times frustrate
most beautiful dreams. It can paralyze the will, making one incapable
of believing that it is really possible to build a house on the rock.
It can convince one that the yearning for such a house is only a
childish aspiration and not a plan for life.
Together with Jesus, say to this fear: "A house founded on the
Together with St. Peter, say to the temptation to doubt: "He who
believes in Christ will not be put to shame!" You are all witnesses to
hope, to that hope which is not afraid to build the house of one's own
life because it is certain that it can count on the foundation that
will never crumble: Jesus Christ our Lord.
[At the end of the meeting, the Holy Father handed young people
"Flame of Mercy," entrusting to them the mission of evangelizing the
world. He then returned to the archbishop's residence in Krakow. At 9
p.m. he appeared at the window of the residence and said the following:]
My dear friends,
This evening I met the young people gathered in Blonie Park. It
unforgettable evening, and it bore witness to their faith and their
will to build a future based on the teachings that Christ left for his
disciples. I offer heartfelt thanks to the Polish young people for this
It includes your presence on Franciszkanska Street, which I know
_expression of your great good will toward the Pope, and I thank you
for this also. Tomorrow lies ahead of us. In greeting you now, I invite
you to the Mass we are to celebrate tomorrow. I bless you from my
heart: in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy
Spirit. Good night!
[Original text in Polish; translation issued by the Holy See]
Benedict XVI's Homily in Blonie
"Standing on Earth; Looking to Heaven"
KRAKOW, Poland, MAY 28, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation
homily Benedict XVI delivered today when celebrating Mass on the
solemnity of the Lord's Ascension in Blonie Park in Krakow.
* * *
"Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up to heaven?" (Acts
Brothers and sisters, today in Blonie Park in Krakow we hear once
this question from the Acts of the Apostles. This time it is directed
to all of us: "Why do you stand looking up to heaven?" The answer to
this question involves the fundamental truth about the life and destiny
of every man and woman.
The question has to do with our attitude to two basic realities
shape every human life: earth and heaven. First, the earth: "Why do you
stand?" -- Why are you here on earth? Our answer is that we are here on
earth because our Maker has put us here as the crowning work of his
Almighty God, in his ineffable plan of love, created the universe,
bringing it forth from nothing. Then, at the completion of this work,
he bestowed life on men and women, creating them in his own image and
likeness (cf. Genesis 1:26-27). He gave them the dignity of being
children of God and the gift of immortality.
We know that man went astray, misused the gift of freedom and said
to God, thus condemning himself to a life marked by evil, sin,
suffering and death. But we also know that God was not resigned to this
situation, but entered directly into humanity's history, which then
became a history of salvation.
"We stand" on the earth, we are rooted in the earth and we grow
it. Here we do good in the many areas of everyday life, in the material
and spiritual realms, in our relationships with other people, in our
efforts to build up the human community and in culture. Here too we
experience the weariness of those who make their way toward a goal by
long and winding paths, amid hesitations, tensions, uncertainties, in
the conviction that the journey will one day come to an end. That is
when the question arises: Is this all there is? Is this earth on which
"we stand" our final destiny?
And so we need to turn to the second part of the biblical
"Why do you stand looking up to heaven?"
We have read that, just as the apostles were asking the Risen Lord
about the restoration of Israel's earthly kingdom, "He was lifted up
and a cloud took him out of their sight." And "they looked up to heaven
as he went" (cf. Acts 1:9-10). They looked up to heaven because they
looked to Jesus Christ, the Crucified and Risen One, raised up on high.
We do not know whether at that precise moment they realized that a
magnificent, infinite horizon was opening up before their eyes: the
ultimate goal of our earthly pilgrimage.
Perhaps they only realized this at Pentecost, in the light of the
Spirit. But for us, at a distance of 2,000 years, the meaning of that
event is quite clear. Here on earth, we are called to look up to
heaven, to turn our minds and hearts to the inexpressible mystery of
God. We are called to look toward this divine reality, to which we have
been directed from our creation. For there we find life's ultimate
Dear brothers and sisters, I am deeply moved to be able to
this Eucharist today in Blonie Park in Krakow, where Pope John Paul II
often celebrated Mass during his unforgettable apostolic visits to his
Through his liturgical celebrations he met the People of God in
every corner of the world, but surely his celebration of Holy Mass in
Blonie Park in Krakow was always something special. Here he returned in
mind and heart to his roots, to the sources of his faith and his
service to the Church. From here he could see Krakow and all Poland.
In his first apostolic visit to Poland, on June 10, 1979, at the
his homily in this park, he said with nostalgia: "Allow me, before
leaving you, to look out once again on Krakow, this Krakow whose every
stone and brick is dear to me. And to look out once again from here on
During the last Mass he celebrated here, on August 18, 2002, he
his homily: "I am grateful for the invitation to visit my Krakow and
for the hospitality you have given me" (No. 2).
I wish to take up these words, to make them my own and repeat them
today: I thank you with all my heart "for the invitation to visit my
Krakow and for the hospitality you have given me." Krakow, the city of
Karol Wojtyla and of John Paul II, is also my Krakow!
Krakow has a special place in the hearts of countless Christians
throughout the world who know that John Paul II came to Vatican Hill
from this city, from Wawel Hill, "from a far country," which thus
became a country dear to all.
At the beginning of the second year of my pontificate, I have felt
deep need to visit Poland and Krakow as a pilgrim in the footsteps of
my predecessor. I wanted to breathe the air of his homeland. I wanted
to see the land where he was born, where he grew up and undertook his
tireless service to Christ and the universal Church. I wanted
especially to meet the living men and women of his country, to
experience your faith, which gave him life and strength, and to know
that you continue firm in that faith. Here I wish to ask God to
preserve that legacy of faith, hope and charity which John Paul II gave
to the world, and to you in particular.
I cordially greet all those gathered in Blonie Park, for as far as
eyes can see and even farther. I wish I could meet each of you
personally. I embrace all those who are taking part in our Eucharist by
radio and television.
I greet all of Poland! I greet the children and young people,
individuals and families, the sick and those suffering in body or
spirit, who are deprived of the joy of life. I greet all those whose
daily labors are helping this country to grow in prosperity. I greet
the Polish people living abroad, everywhere in the world. I thank
Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, the metropolitan archbishop of Krakow, for
his warm words of welcome. I greet Cardinal Franciszek Macharski and
all the cardinals, bishops, priests and consecrated men and women, as
well as the other guests who have come from many lands, particularly
the neighboring countries. My greetings go to the president of the
republic and to the prime minister, and to the representatives of the
national, territorial and local authorities.
Dear brothers and sisters, I have taken as the motto of my
to Poland in the footsteps of John Paul II the words: "Stand firm in
your faith!" This appeal is directed to us all as members of the
community of Christ's disciples, to each and every one of us.
Faith is a deeply personal and human act, an act which has two
To believe means first to accept as true what our mind cannot fully
comprehend. We have to accept what God reveals to us about himself,
about ourselves, about everything around us, including the things that
are invisible, inexpressible and beyond our imagination.
This act of accepting revealed truth broadens the horizon of our
knowledge and draws us to the mystery in which our lives are immersed.
Letting our reason be limited in this way is not something easy to do.
Here we see the second aspect of faith: It is trust in a person, no
ordinary person, but Jesus Christ himself. What we believe is
important, but even more important is the One in whom we believe.
St. Paul speaks of this in the passage from the Letter to the
which we have heard today. God has given us a spirit of wisdom and
"enlightened the eyes of our hearts, that we may know what is the hope
to which he has called us, the riches of his glorious inheritance in
the saints, and the immeasurable greatness of his power in us who
believe, according to the working of his great power in Christ" (cf.
Ephesians 1:17-20). Believing means surrendering ourselves to God and
entrusting our destiny to him. Believing means entering into a personal
relationship with our Creator and Redeemer in the power of the Holy
Spirit, and making this relationship the basis of our whole life.
Today we heard the words of Jesus: "You shall receive power when
Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in
Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth"
Centuries ago these words reached Poland. They challenged, and
to challenge all those who say they belong to Christ, who consider his
to be the greatest cause. We need to be witnesses of Jesus, who lives
in the Church and in human hearts. He has given us a mission. On the
day he ascended to heaven, he said to his apostles: "Go into all the
world and preach the Gospel to the whole creation. … And they went
forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and
confirmed the message by the signs that attended it" (Mark 16:15,20).
Dear brothers and sisters! When Karol Wojtyla was elected to the
Peter in order to serve the universal Church, your land became a place
of special witness to faith in Jesus Christ. You were called to give
this witness before the whole world. This vocation of yours is always
needed, and it is perhaps even more urgent than ever, now that the
Servant of God has passed from this life. Do not deprive the world of
Before I return to Rome to continue my ministry, I appeal to all
in the words spoken here by Pope John Paul II in 1979: "You must be
strong, dear brothers and sisters. You must be strong with the strength
that comes from faith. You must be strong with the strength of faith.
You must be faithful. Today, more than in any other age, you need this
strength. You must be strong with the strength of hope, the hope that
brings perfect joy in life and which prevents us from ever grieving the
Holy Spirit! You must be strong with love, the love which is stronger
than death. ... You must be strong with the strength of faith, hope and
charity, a charity that is conscious, mature and responsible, and which
can help us at this moment of our history to carry on the great
dialogue with man and the world, a dialogue rooted in dialogue with God
himself, with the Father, through the Son in the Holy Spirit, the
dialogue of salvation" (Homily, June 10, 1979, No. 4).
I too, Benedict XVI, the Successor of Pope John Paul II, am asking
to look up from earth to heaven, to lift your eyes to the One to whom
succeeding generations have looked for 2,000 years, and in whom they
have discovered life's ultimate meaning.
Strengthened by faith in God, devote yourselves fervently to
consolidating his Kingdom on earth, a Kingdom of goodness, justice,
solidarity and mercy. I ask you to bear courageous witness to the
Gospel before today's world, bringing hope to the poor, the suffering,
the lost and abandoned, the desperate and those yearning for freedom,
truth and peace. By doing good to your neighbor and showing your
concern for the common good, you bear witness that God is love.
I ask you, finally, to share with the other peoples of Europe and
world the treasure of your faith, not least as a way of honoring the
memory of your countryman, who, as the Successor of Saint Peter, did
this with extraordinary power and effectiveness. And remember me in
your prayers and sacrifices, even as you remembered my great
Predecessor, so that I can carry out the mission Christ has given me. I
ask you to stand firm in your faith! Stand firm in your hope! Stand
firm in your love! Amen!
[Original text in Polish; translation issued by the Holy See]
After Mass in
"Do Not Let Yourselves Fall Victim to This World's Illusions"
KRAKOW, Poland, MAY 28, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican
translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before reciting the
midday Regina Caeli. The Pope had just celebrated Mass at Blonie Park
in Krakow, on his last full day in Poland.
* * *
Before concluding this solemn liturgy with the singing of the
Caeli and the blessing, I would like once again to greet the people of
Krakow and the many visitors from all over Poland who have taken part
in this celebration of Mass. I entrust all of you to the Mother of the
Redeemer, and I ask her to guide you in your faith. I thank you for
your presence here and for the witness of your faith.
In particular I address myself to the young people, who yesterday
expressed their adherence to Christ and to the Church. Yesterday you
presented me with the gift of your book of testimonies: "I do not take
them, I am free of drugs." I ask you now as your father: Remain
faithful to this promise. It is a question of your lives and your
Do not let yourselves fall victim to this world's illusions. I
also like to greet the scholarship holders of the Work of the New
Millennium foundation. I wish you every success in your studies and in
preparing for your future.
I greet all the representatives of the highest authorities of the
Polish Republic. I am grateful to the Polish episcopate and to the
representatives of many other European episcopates, who have taken part
in this pilgrimage of mine on Polish territory.
I greet the professors and students of universities and colleges
all over Poland, represented by so many rectors.
And I thank everyone who has shown me kindness in all sorts of
including those who have gone to the trouble of organizing my meetings
with the faithful. May Mary intercede for you and obtain for you all
the graces that you need.
[Original text in Polish; translation issued by the Holy See]
Pope's Message at
"As a Son of the German People, I Could Not Fail to Come Here"
KRAKOW, Poland, MAY 28, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation
address Benedict XVI delivered today when visiting the site of the
Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, the last stage of his apostolic
trip to Poland.
* * *
To speak in this place of horror, in this place where
mass crimes were committed against God and man, is almost impossible --
and it is particularly difficult and troubling for a Christian, for a
Pope from Germany. In a place like this, words fail; in the end, there
can only be a dread silence -- a silence which is itself a heartfelt
cry to God: Why, Lord, did you remain silent? How could you tolerate
In silence, then, we bow our heads before the endless line of
suffered and were put to death here; yet our silence becomes in turn a
plea for forgiveness and reconciliation, a plea to the living God never
to let this happen again.
Twenty-seven years ago, on June 7, 1979, Pope John Paul II stood
this place. He said: "I come here today as a pilgrim. As you know, I
have been here many times. So many times! And many times I have gone
down to Maximilian Kolbe's death cell, paused before the execution
wall, and walked amid the ruins of the Birkenau ovens. It was
impossible for me not to come here as Pope."
Pope John Paul came here as a son of that people which, along with
Jewish people, suffered most in this place and, in general, throughout
the war. "Six million Poles lost their lives during the Second World
War: a fifth of the nation," he reminded us. Here, too, he solemnly
called for respect for human rights and the rights of nations, as his
predecessors John XXIII and Paul VI had done before him, and added:
"The one who speaks these words is ... the son of a nation which, in
its history, has suffered greatly from others. He says this, not to
accuse, but to remember. He speaks in the name of all those nations
whose rights are being violated and disregarded ..."
Pope John Paul II came here as a son of the Polish people. I come
today as a son of the German people. For this very reason, I can and
must echo his words: I could not fail to come here.
I had to come. It is a duty before the truth and the just due of
who suffered here, a duty before God, for me to come here as the
successor of Pope John Paul II and as a son of the German people -- a
son of that people over which a ring of criminals rose to power by
false promises of future greatness and the recovery of the nation's
honor, prominence and prosperity, but also through terror and
intimidation, with the result that our people was used and abused as an
instrument of their thirst for destruction and power.
Yes, I could not fail to come here. On June 7, 1979, I came as the
archbishop of Munich-Freising, along with many other bishops who
accompanied the Pope, listened to his words and joined in his prayer.
In 1980, I came back to this dreadful place with a delegation of German
bishops, appalled by its evil, yet grateful for the fact that above its
dark clouds the star of reconciliation had emerged.
This is the same reason why I have come here today: to implore the
grace of reconciliation -- first of all from God, who alone can open
and purify our hearts, from the men and women who suffered here, and
finally the grace of reconciliation for all those who, at this hour of
our history, are suffering in new ways from the power of hatred and the
violence which hatred spawns.
How many questions arise in this place! Constantly the question
up: Where was God in those days? Why was he silent? How could he permit
this endless slaughter, this triumph of evil?
The words of Psalm 44 come to mind, Israel's lament for its woes:
have broken us in the haunt of jackals, and covered us with deep
darkness ... because of you we are being killed all day long, and
accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Rouse yourself! Why do you sleep,
O Lord? Awake, do not cast us off forever! Why do you hide your face?
Why do you forget our affliction and oppression? For we sink down to
the dust; our bodies cling to the ground. Rise up, come to our help!
Redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love!" (Psalm 44:19,22-26).
This cry of anguish, which Israel raised to God in its suffering,
moments of deep distress, is also the cry for help raised by all those
who in every age -- yesterday, today and tomorrow -- suffer for the
love of God, for the love of truth and goodness. How many they are,
even in our own day!
We cannot peer into God's mysterious plan -- we see only
we would be wrong to set ourselves up as judges of God and history.
Then we would not be defending man, but only contributing to his
downfall. No -- when all is said and done, we must continue to cry out
humbly yet insistently to God: Rouse yourself! Do not forget mankind,
And our cry to God must also be a cry that pierces our very heart,
cry that awakens within us God's hidden presence -- so that his power,
the power he has planted in our hearts, will not be buried or choked
within us by the mire of selfishness, pusillanimity, indifference or
Let us cry out to God, with all our hearts, at the present hour,
new misfortunes befall us, when all the forces of darkness seem to
issue anew from human hearts: whether it is the abuse of God's name as
a means of justifying senseless violence against innocent persons, or
the cynicism which refuses to acknowledge God and ridicules faith in
Let us cry out to God, that he may draw men and women to
help them to see that violence does not bring peace, but only generates
more violence -- a morass of devastation in which everyone is
ultimately the loser.
The God in whom we believe is a God of reason -- a reason, to be
which is not a kind of cold mathematics of the universe, but is one
with love and with goodness. We make our prayer to God and we appeal to
humanity, that this reason, the logic of love and the recognition of
the power of reconciliation and peace, may prevail over the threats
arising from irrationalism or from a spurious and godless reason.
The place where we are standing is a place of memory. The past is
simply the past. It always has something to say to us; it tells us the
paths to take and the paths not to take. Like John Paul II, I have
walked alongside the inscriptions in various languages erected in
memory of those who died here: inscriptions in Belarusian, Czech,
German, French, Greek, Hebrew, Croatian, Italian, Yiddish, Hungarian,
Dutch, Norwegian, Polish, Russian, Romani, Romanian, Slovak, Serbian,
Ukrainian, Judeo-Spanish and English.
All these inscriptions speak of human grief, they give us a
the cynicism of that regime which treated men and women as material
objects, and failed to see them as persons embodying the image of God.
Some inscriptions are pointed reminders. There is one in Hebrew.
rulers of the Third Reich wanted to crush the entire Jewish people, to
cancel it from the register of the peoples of the earth. Thus the words
of the Psalm: "We are being killed, accounted as sheep for the
slaughter" were fulfilled in a terrifying way.
Deep down, those vicious criminals, by wiping out this people,
to kill the God who called Abraham, who spoke on Sinai and laid down
principles to serve as a guide for mankind, principles that are
eternally valid. If this people, by its very existence, was a witness
to the God who spoke to humanity and took us to himself, then that God
finally had to die and power had to belong to man alone -- to those
men, who thought that by force they had made themselves masters of the
world. By destroying Israel, they ultimately wanted to tear up the
taproot of the Christian faith and to replace it with a faith of their
own invention: faith in the rule of man, the rule of the powerful.
Then there is the inscription in Polish. First and foremost they
to eliminate the cultural elite, thus erasing the Polish people as an
autonomous historical subject and reducing it, to the extent that it
continued to exist, to slavery.
Another inscription offering a pointed reminder is the one written
the language of the Sinti and Roma people. Here too, the plan was to
wipe out a whole people which lives by migrating among other peoples.
They were seen as part of the refuse of world history, in an ideology
which valued only the empirically useful; everything else, according to
this view, was to be written off as "lebensunwertes Leben" -- life
unworthy of being lived.
There is also the inscription in Russian, which commemorates the
tremendous loss of life endured by the Russian soldiers who combated
the Nazi reign of terror; but this inscription also reminds us that
their mission had a tragic twofold aim: by setting people free from one
dictatorship, they were to submit them to another, that of Stalin and
the Communist system.
The other inscriptions, written in Europe's many languages, also
to us of the sufferings of men and women from the whole continent. They
would stir our hearts profoundly if we remembered the victims not
merely in general, but rather saw the faces of the individual persons
who ended up here in this abyss of terror.
I felt a deep urge to pause in a particular way before the
in German. It evokes the face of Edith Stein, Teresa Benedicta of the
Cross: a woman, Jewish and German, who disappeared along with her
sister into the black night of the Nazi-German concentration camp; as a
Christian and a Jew, she accepted death with her people and for them.
The Germans who had been brought to Auschwitz-Birkenau and met
death here were considered as "Abschaum der Nation" -- the refuse of
the nation. Today we gratefully hail them as witnesses to the truth and
goodness which even among our people were not eclipsed. We are grateful
to them, because they did not submit to the power of evil, and now they
stand before us like lights shining in a dark night. With profound
respect and gratitude, then, let us bow our heads before all those who,
like the three young men in Babylon facing death in the fiery furnace,
could respond: "Only our God can deliver us. But even if he does not,
be it known to you, O King, that we will not serve your gods and we
will not worship the golden statue that you have set up" (cf. Daniel
Yes, behind these inscriptions is hidden the fate of countless
beings. They jar our memory, they touch our hearts. They have no desire
to instill hatred in us: Instead, they show us the terrifying effect of
hatred. Their desire is to help our reason to see evil as evil and to
reject it; their desire is to enkindle in us the courage to do good and
to resist evil. They want to make us feel the sentiments expressed in
the words that Sophocles placed on the lips of Antigone, as she
contemplated the horror all around her: My nature is not to join in
hate but to join in love.
By God's grace, together with the purification of memory demanded
this place of horror, a number of initiatives have sprung up with the
aim of imposing a limit upon evil and confirming goodness.
Just now I was able to bless the Center for Dialogue and Prayer.
immediate neighborhood the Carmelite nuns carry on their life of
hiddenness, knowing that they are united in a special way to the
mystery of Christ's cross and reminding us of the faith of Christians,
which declares that God himself descended into the hell of suffering
and suffers with us. In Oswiecim is the Center of St. Maximilian Kolbe,
and the International Center for Education about Auschwitz and the
Holocaust. There is also the International House for Meetings of Young
people. Near one of the old prayer houses is the Jewish Center. Finally
the Academy for Human Rights is presently being established. So there
is hope that this place of horror will gradually become a place for
constructive thinking, and that remembrance will foster resistance to
evil and the triumph of love.
At Auschwitz-Birkenau, humanity walked through a "valley of
And so, here in this place, I would like to end with a prayer of trust
-- with one of the psalms of Israel which is also a prayer of
Christians: "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie
down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; he restores my
soul. He leads me in right paths for his name's sake. Even though I
walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for you
are with me; your rod and your staff -- they comfort me ... I shall
dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long" (Psalm 23:1-4,6).
[Original text in Polish; translation issued by the Holy See]
Farewell to Poland
"Enrich the Continent and the Whole World With Your Tradition"
KRAKOW, Poland, MAY 28, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican
translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered today during the
farewell ceremony at the Krakow/Balice airport, on the last day of his
visit to Poland. The Pope had just heard the greetings of Polish
President Lech Kaczynski.
* * *
Mr. President of the Republic of Poland,
My Venerable Brother, the Cardinal Archbishop of Krakow,
Beloved brothers and sisters!
The time has come for me to say farewell to Poland. For four days
have passed through your country like a pilgrim, visiting places of
particular importance for your historical and spiritual identity.
Warsaw, Jasna Gora, Krakow, Wadowice, Kalwaria Zebrzydowska,
Lagiewniki, Oawiecim -- how many memories these names evoke! What a
wealth of meaning they have for the Polish people!
When taking leave of his homeland for the last time four years
beloved predecessor Pope John Paul II exhorted the Polish nation always
to be guided by sentiments of mercy, fraternal solidarity, and
dedication to the common good, and he expressed the firm conviction
that in this way she would not only find her proper place within a
united Europe, but would also enrich this continent and the whole world
with her tradition.
Today, as your presence in the family of European states is being
constantly consolidated, I wish with my whole heart to repeat those
words of hope. I ask you to remain faithful custodians of the Christian
deposit, and to transmit it to future generations.
Dear Polish people! I want to confide in you that this pilgrimage,
during which I have visited places particularly dear to the great John
Paul II, has brought me even closer to you, his compatriots. I thank
you for the prayer with which you have surrounded me from the moment of
my election. During my meetings with you, at audiences in the Vatican,
I have often felt a bond of intense prayer and spontaneous sympathy. I
would like you to continue to remember me in your prayers, asking the
Lord to increase my strength in the service of the universal Church.
I thank the president of the Republic of Poland and the Polish
episcopate for the invitation. I thank the prime minister for the
government's fruitful cooperation with Church representatives in the
preparation for this visit. I express my gratitude to the authorities
at every level for their hard work, both before and during my visit.
I thank the representatives of the mass media for the efforts they
made to give ample coverage to this pilgrimage. My expressions of
appreciation and gratitude are also extended to the services of public
order, to the army, the police, the fire brigade, the health-care teams
and all those who have helped to make such a success of the Pope's
encounter with Poland and its inhabitants.
I would like to conclude my visit with the words of the Apostle
which have accompanied my pilgrimage in Polish territory: "Be watchful,
stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong. Let all that you do
be done in love" (1 Corinthians 16:13-14). My blessing upon you all!
[Original text in Polish; translation issued by the Holy See]
Comments on the papal visit
Assessing Benedict XVI's Visit to
Interview With Father Jean Stern
ROME, JUNE 7, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI's visit to Auschwitz
continuation of John Paul II's teachings on the particular relationship
between God and the Jews, says a priest whose parents died in that camp.
In this interview, held May 28, Father Jean Stern, a Jewish-born
missionary of Our Lady of LaSalette, shared with ZENIT his reflections
on Benedict XVI's historic visit to Auschwitz during his trip to Poland.
Q: No doubt you followed closely Benedict XVI's visit to
What did you find especially significant about this visit?
Father Stern: The fact that the Holy Father presented himself as a
German, saying: "It is a duty before the truth and the just due of all
who suffered here, a duty before God, for me to come here as the
successor of Pope John Paul II and as a son of the German people, that
people over which a ring of criminals rose to power by false promises
of future greatness and the recovery of the nation's honor, prominence
and prosperity, but also through terror and intimidation, with the
result that our people were used and abused as an instrument of their
thirst for destruction and power."
Benedict XVI knows the catechism and he knows that the
a deceitful tempter is not an excuse that can make innocent those who
have listened to him and followed him. "The serpent deceived me," Eve
said after her sin.
On the other hand, the Pope abstained from specifying how many
followed the Nazi power out of conviction [or] weakness and how many,
on the contrary, were able to resist heroically. It belongs to God to
read consciences and judge them.
Q: Benedict XVI's visit had three stages: Auschwitz I, with the
those shot and the bunker of hunger; the Catholic center for dialogue
and prayer; and, finally, Birkenau, also called Auschwitz II, a camp
specialized in massacres on an industrial scale. Is it significant that
the Pope paused at the Catholic center?
Father Stern: That center, with the Carmel which is next to it,
manifests a notable openness of the Polish people to others' sufferings.
Of the 6 million Poles who lost their lives during the war, half
Jews, the other half were all, or almost all, baptized Christians. The
majority of the latter were led to death by the Nazis.
Although the proportion of non-Jewish victims in relation to the
population is far lower than the proportion of Jewish victims, around
10% in the first case, and 90% in the second, it is in any case huge
figures of wounds that have left profound and painful scars on the
Openness to sufferings, and also to the problems of others, which
existence of this center represents, seems very positive to me for the
future of Europe.
Q: What perception was there at the time of this barbarism?
Father Stern: For many people in France, at least until 1942, the
German invader was still the German of 1914-1918.
My family was in the know, in a general way, of Nazi atrocities.
parents died in Auschwitz. But when they climbed into the cattle wagons
that took them there, did they have an idea of the "final solution"? I
Q: What do you think is important to make new generations
Father Stern: Young people must be made to understand that every
weak at the moral level.
It is tempting for young people to think: "Our fathers have
abominations, OK. But we have understood it." In fact, today as
yesterday, each one must watch over his convictions and his conduct.
Otherwise, there is a great risk of being drawn where, in principle,
one did not wish to go.
Q: What impressed you most when Benedict XVI spoke about the Jews?
Father Stern: I was impressed by the continuity between his
and those of John Paul II. According to this last Pope, God never gave
up the Covenant he made with Israel.
The Jewish people, Benedict XVI said at Auschwitz, "by its very
existence, is a witness to the God who spoke to humanity and took us to
himself," who in Sinai enunciated the criteria that remains valid for
In the intentions of the Nazis, he added, "by destroying Israel,
Shoah, they ultimately wanted to tear up the taproot of the Christian