DAILY CATHOLIC     TUESDAY     June 8, 1999     vol. 10, no. 110


On-going coverage of the Holy Father's marathon trip to his homeland

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      VATICAN (CWNews.com) -- Pope John Paul II arrived in Gdansk on June 5 to begin his eighth papal trip to his native Poland. He told a welcoming crowd at the northern city, "on the threshold of a new era, I want to meditate with all of my countrymen on the mystery of God, who is love."

      The Pope arrived-- smiling and energetic, albeit stooped in stature and slow in his movements-- around noon on Saturday. He was greeted at the Gdansk airport by Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski, the Catholic primate, Cardinal Joseph Glemp, and the bishops of Gdansk. The Holy Father quickly told the crowd that Gdansk, the birthplace of the Solidarity movement, is a city "which has entered forever into the history of Poland, Europe, and maybe even the world."

      It was in Gdansk, the Pope explained, that the "new" Poland was born, and the post-Communist era was inaugurated for all of Eastern Europe. The popular movement begun there "opened the doors of freedom to countries that were enslaved by totalitarian governments, brought down the Berlin Wall, and contributed to the unity of a European continent which had been divided since World War II," he said.

      The Pontiff also paid tribute to the Polish people for the economic progress they have managed since the fall of the Communist regime. However, he cautioned that economic progress alone does not guarantee happiness. "There can be no real happiness, no future for men or for nations, without love," he said. The challenge facing Europe today is to build up a civilization of love, to overcome the culture of death, he concluded.


      VATICAN (CWNews.com) -- On the second day of his trip to Poland, Pope John Paul II paid tribute to the Catholic victims of Nazi persecution, especially those among the clergy.

      The Holy Father celebrated Mass for a congregation of roughly 300,000 people on a hill outside Pelplin, the diocese which lost the largest percentage of its priests to the Nazi death camps. He noted that the "autumn of Pelplin" in 1939 presaged a long period of persecution against the Catholic Church, during which 303 pastors and nearly half of the diocesan clergy were killed. Nevertheless, he pointed out, the faith remained strong-- because of the heroic witness of those priests. Today, he said, the Polish Church must again construct a society based on love, which can withstand the pressures of current events.

      In particular, the Pope said, the Church must resist the temptation to interpret the message of Scripture so that it matches the trends of contemporary literature and an "individualistic philosophy of life." He urged priests in particular to ensure that the Bible is interpreted in accordance with the tradition of the church.


      VATICAN (CWNews.com) -- Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz, the apostolic administrator of Moscow, traveled to Elblag, Poland, to meet with Pope John Paul II on June 6. He announced: "We are looking forward to the day when the Pope can come to Russia, to hearing his footstep in Red Square, in Moscow, or in St. Petersburg!"

      A group of 700 Russian Catholics traveled from Kaliningrad to Elblag, a port on the Baltic sea, to join the 400,000 Poles welcoming the Pope there. As the leader of the Russian delegation, Archbishop Kondrusiewicz pointed out that the Pope's recent trip to Romania had a powerful public impact, and might open the way for future trips to the Eastern European countries where the Orthodox Church is dominant-- such as Russia. The papal visit to Romania, he said, should not be underestimated; it was "one of the great ecumenical events of the 20th century."


      VATICAN (CWNews.com) -- On Monday, June 7-- the third day of his eighth papal voyage to Poland-- Pope John Paul II celebrated a "Mass of martyrs" in Bydgoszcz, a city south of Gdansk.

      Bydgoszcz, which was ruled by Prussia until 1920, was annexed by the Third Reich during World War II, and the Nazi regime undertook an extermination campaign which killed one-fourth of the city's population. Speaking in his homily to the 500,000 people who attended the Mass, the Pope recalled the phrase from the Beatitudes: "Blessed are they who suffer persecution for justice's sake." He said that the totalitarian regimes of the 20th century have produced countless thousands of martyrs, "many of them still unknown to us," who suffered for the sake of the Gospel.

      Among "contemporary martyrs," the Pope named Father Jerzy Popieluszko, who was killed by Polish secret police officers in 1987, after being forced to leave Bydgoszcz because he had taken public positions critical of the Communist regime. In the afternoon, he paid homage to another Polish martyr, beatifying Wincenty Frelichowski, who died in a Nazi concentration camp in 1945.


      VATICAN CITY, 7 (NE) Smiling for being again among his compatriots, Pope John Paul II began on Saturday the first day of his seventh apostolic pilgrimage to Poland. 20 years after the first visit to his country as Pontiff, he began this new pilgrimage recalling that "we are at the threshold of new times. I want to meditate with all of you, compatriots, the mystery of God that is Love."

      The Pontiff was received at the airport by the president of the Republic, Alekxander Kwasniewski, with words of thankful acknowledgement in the name of the Polish people. In the afternoon the Pope celebrated a Mass in honor of St. Adalbert, patron of this land.

      "It was in this city," he recalled, "where Solidarity was born 19 years ago." This movement "opened the doors of freedom to the countries that were enslaved by totalitarian governments, it put the wall of Berlin down and contributed to the unity of Europe, which was divided since World War II."

      The Pope also said that the great improvements in the economical sphere as well as other areas that the new Poland is experiencing must go at hand with a "spiritual development." "There is no happiness, no future for man nor nation without love," he said, adding that the fundamental aim of development must be the construction of a "Civilization of Love."


      VATICAN CITY, 7 (NE) In his second day in Poland, Pope John Paul II met with more than 300.000 faithful for the celebration of a Mass in the diocese of Pelplin, in the northern region of the country. Later, at the airport of Elblag, the Holy Father presided over a ceremony in honour of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.

      He recalled in his homily the deep Catholic roots of Poland and also underlined the testimony of the martyr priests and bishops, victims of nazism in Poland, as well as the importance of the historic significance of present times. "Given the new challenges confronting the individual and entire societies today, we must constantly renew our awareness of what the word of God is, of how important it is in the life of the Christian, in the life of the Church and of all humanity," he said.

      The Pope urged during this second day to put a serious interpretation of the Holy Scriptures as foundation of the mission of the Church in our days. He warned against "interpretations that even take away the meaning of the Scripture, such as the interpretations promoted by some present literature and by individualist philosophies."

      "The task of giving an authentic interpretation of the Word of God ... has been entrusted to the living teaching office of the Church alone, whose authority in this matter is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ," said the Pontiff. "Those who assume responsibility for an authoritative explanation of revealed truth must trust not in their own, often fallible, intuition but in sound knowledge and unyielding faith."

Articles provided through Catholic World News and Church News at Noticias Eclesiales and International Dossiers, Daily Dispatches and Features at ZENIT International News Agency. CWN, NE and ZENIT are not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provide this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

June 8, 1999       volume 10, no. 110


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