DAILY CATHOLIC     WEDNESDAY     June 9, 1999     vol. 10, no. 111


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

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Pope Commemorates Martyrs of All Times

          BYDGOSZCZ, JUN 7 (ZENIT).- John Paul II's trip to Poland is surpassing all expectations. This morning, some 700,000 people came to Bydgoszcz to attend one of the most emotional Masses of this pilgrimage, in commemoration of martyrs of all times.

          The place where Mass was offered was significant. During the Second World War, the Nazis exterminated one quarter of the population of this city, which at the time numbered 140,000, and annexed Bydgoszcz to the Third Reich.

          As witnesses to reconciliation, the Mass was also attended by the Cardinals of Berlin, Cologne and Vienna.

    History of Martyrs

          In a moving address, the Pope reviewed the history of martyrdom from the time of Nero and Diocletian to the Nazi extermination camps and Soviet gulags. In the glorious list of martyrs, he mentioned 108 Poles whom he will beatify next Sunday in Warsaw. These were killed during the German occupation. Special mention was also made of Bishop Michau Kozal, killed in Dachau and beatified by this Pope a few years ago, and Father Jerzy Popieluszko, who was kidnapped in Bydgoszcz in 1994, and killed by communist police who threw his body into the Vistula River. His beatification cause is well underway.

          The Holy Father reviewed Japanese, French, Vietnamese, Spanish and Mexican martyrs because "now is the time to remember all these victims and to grant them the honor which is their due. These are the martyrs: many of them nameless, 'unknown soldiers' as it were of God's great cause."

          "All gave testimony of fidelity to Christ in spite of sufferings which horrify us by their cruelty," the Holy Father continued. "Their blood was poured out on our land and made it fertile for growth and for the harvest."

    Martyrdom at End of Second Millennium

          These are necessary models for Christians in our times who wish to live the faith coherently, because to live the Gospel is not easy, especially in modern consumerist societies. In addition to "public martyrdom" there is "hidden martyrdom," which takes place "in the depths of people's hearts; it is the martyrdom of the struggle with oneself and the victory over oneself," the Holy Father explained.

          The Pope then referred to the martyrs of our day and, in particular, to the martyrdom of mothers who have sacrificed their life for their children. He mentioned believers who have experienced harsh trials to defend the right to freedom of conscience and religion.

    "Fools for God"

          "By their lives they show that the world needs such 'fools for God's sake,' who walk the earth like Christ, like Adalbert, Stanislaus, or Maximilian Maria Kolbe and many others," noted the Holy Father. "The world needs people who have the courage to love and do not retreat before any sacrifice, in the hope that one day it will bear abundant fruit."

          John Paul II concluded, his voice breaking with emotion: "Indeed, 'rejoice and be glad,' all you who are ready to suffer for righteousness' sake, for your reward is great in heaven!"

          The Pontiff's third day in Poland began very early, under rainy skies, with the blessing of the new shrine of the Virgin of Lichen. This shrine, still under construction, will be the largest in Poland.

          Once again, the Pope attracted huge crowds: 200,000 gathered for this event, half of whom were up all night to insure a place for themselves as close as possible to the Pope. ZE99060704


Pope Addresses Drama of Modern Man with Polish Professors

          TORUN, JUN 7 (ZENIT).- After his meeting with 700,000 faithful, in which he commemorated martyrs of all times, early this afternoon John Paul II entered the recollected environment of the University of Torun, cradle of Nicholas Copernicus, one of the most important astronomers in history.

          Rectors from all the Polish universities came to the meeting at this academic institution, created after the Second World War on the banks of the Vistula in honor of Copernicus, and the Pontiff gave free rein to the questions on which he has always reflected, and which were turned into great debates with his students when he was a philosophy professor at the University of Lublin.

    Is there Room for Hope?

          During the meeting with the professors, the Pope put aside academic language and posed the great questions facing man. "Today the world needs hope and is searching for hope! But does not the tragic history of our century, with its wars, its criminal totalitarian ideologies, its concentration camps and gulags, make it easy for us to yield to the temptation of discouragement and despair?"

          In answering this question, the Pope appealed to Blaise Pascal (1623-1662), who once wrote "that man's knowledge of his own misery leads him to despair (cf. "Pensées," 75). In order to discover hope, we need to lift our gaze on high. Only the knowledge of Christ, Pascal adds, sets us free from despair, since in him we realize not only our misery but also our grandeur" (cf. ibid., 690, 729, 730).

    Created to Love

          The Holy Father pointed out that the human person "remains a being that is incomprehensible to himself, his life is senseless, if love is not revealed to him, if he does not encounter love, if he does not experience it and make it his own, if he does not participate intimately in it" (Redemptor Hominis, 10). It is the same conviction he expressed when he came to papacy twenty years ago and published "Redemptor Hominis," a document which, more than just an encyclical, constitutes the nucleus and program of his pontificate. Everything hinges on one reality: "Man cannot live without love."

          Only in this way is the temptation to despair, so keenly felt by contemporary man, overcome. "Precisely this truth about 'God-Love' becomes the source of the world's hope and points out the path of our responsibility. Man is able to love, because he was first loved by God."


          Finally, the Pope could not fail to address the questions that even today Copernicus (1473-1543) poses to modern man. Copernicus was the first man to formulate a coherent statement on the movement of the earth and the other planets around the sun. "The discovery made by Copernicus, and its importance for the history of science, remind us of the ever-present tension between reason and faith," the Holy Father noted. "Although Copernicus himself saw the discovery as giving rise to even greater amazement at the Creator of the world and the power of human reason, many people took it as a means of setting reason against faith. Which of these is the truth?"

    The Modern Drama

          "The split between reason and faith was the expression of one of humanity's great tragedies," the Pope explained. This rupture "caused irreparable damage not only to religion but also to culture." Consequently, the great challenge for contemporary culture, the Holy Father concluded, quoting his last encyclical "Fides et Ratio," consists in the "need to work for a reconciliation between faith and reason." ZE99060707


    One Thousand Russian Catholics Meet Pope Near Kaliningrad

            ELBLAG, JUN 7 (ZENIT).- Yesterday afternoon, John Paul II's marathon around Poland took him to Elblag, on the Russian border, just a few miles from the military base at Kaliningrad (formerly Koenigsberg), annexed by the Soviet Union in 1945, after months of bitter combat. He was met there by Moscow's Catholic Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz, who took advantage of the opportunity to come to greet the Pontiff, along with one thousand Russian Catholics, and renew the invitation to John Paul II to visit Russia.

            "Your Holiness, we await you in Moscow!" the Archbishop said. He later told the press: "All of us are dreaming and praying for the day when the Holy Father can come to Russia and walk in Red Square, Saint Petersburg and Kaliningrad. It is a dream that has become easier after the Pope's visit to Rumania."

            The Russian Catholics came to join the Pope in the celebration of the millennium of Saint Adalbert's martyrdom. The martyr was the evangelist of this region. The Russian Catholics used every possible means of transportation, including small boats, to be with the Holy Father.

            The Russians of the border region have great affection for Saint Adalbert. The anniversary was an excuse for the Pope's visit, as the Polish city of Elblag and Russian Tenkity both claim the honor of being the site of Bishop Adalbert's martyrdom. ZE99060702


          VATICAN (CWNews.com) -- At a June 9 meeting with professors, Pope John Paul II praised the astronomer Nicolas Copernicus, a native son of Poland.

          Copernicus, the Pope said, showed his "admiration" for "the Creator fo the world" and for "the power of human reason." Through his work, he advanced the cause of science by his discovery that the earth and the other planets of this solar system orbit around the sun.

          The Pope acknowledged that many scientists and scholars have used the Copernican discovery as the basis for "opposing reason to the faith." He denounced that error, insisting that it is always important to "be open to the reconciliation of faith and reason," lest religious beliefs be dismissed or "reduced to myth or superstitution."

          The Pontiff had his lunch near the birthplace of Copernicus, in the historic center of Torun, near the red brick walls that surrounded the medieval city on the banks of the Vistula River.


          VATICAN (CWNews.com) -- Pope John Paul II emphasized Lithuanian culture during the fourth day of his trip to Poland, as he celebrated Mass in Elk, a town on the northeast of Poland where ethnic Lithuanians form a substantial minority of the population.

          Several groups of pilgrims from Lithuania itself made the trip to Elk to see the Pope, and the Holy Father addressed them in their own language during his homily. He offered a special salute to the country's President Valdas Adamkus, who was on hand for the Mass, and urged him, "Build the future of your country on the faith, for the good of the Church, of Europe, and of humanity."

          Speaking later to 150,000 people outside the Elk cathedral, the Pope centered his remarks on the question of poverty, saying that Christians should be mindful of those who are needy, especially during times of economic crisis. (The region surrounding Elk is currently experiencing economic difficulties.) At times, he said, that concern for the poor should act as a brake on schemes for financial advancement. "Development and economic progress cannot be pursued regardless of the cost," he warned.


          BYDGOSZCZ, 8 (NE) The third day of Pope John Paul II' visit to his native country was characterized by great activity. He blessed the church of the Shrine of the Madonna of Lichen in the morning and a few hours later he celebrated the Eucharist in Bydgoszcz, before more than half a million people. This celebration has been called the "Mass of the Martyrs," where the Pope payed homage to all the martyrs in the history of the Church.

          The Holy Father recalled that alongside public martyrdom, there is the Christian exigency of the "martyrdom of our vocation and of our mission, a martyrdom of the struggle with oneself and of the victory over oneself." The world, said the Holy Father before the multitude, "needs these kinds of 'madmen for God', that live their lives like Christ, such as Adalbert, Estanislaw, Maximilian Maria Kolbe, and so many others. The world needs people that have the courage to love and not to give up against any sacrifice, in the hope that one day it will bear abundant fruit."

          In the afternoon deacons and Polish scholars at the University of Torun, birthplace of Nicholas Copernicus, received Pope John Paul II. The Pope recalled the renowned astronomer and explained that even though for him his heliocentric theory was reason to give glory to the Creator, he is mistakenly presented by many as symbol of the rupture between faith and reason. In this sense, the Pope manifested, referring to his last encyclical "Fides et Ratio," that the great and present challenge consists in promoting "reconciliation between faith and reason." The divergence of reason and faith expresses one of the great dramas of man, he stated.

          Facing the question if one can still have hope taking into account the "dramatic history of our century, with its wars, the criminal totalitarian ideologies, the concentration camps and the gulags," the Pope answered that "the truth about "God-that-Loves" is the source of the hope of the world and the light that orients the path of our responsibility. Man can love, because he has been loved before by God."

          "To discover hope it is necessary to raise our eyes upwards. Only the knowledge of Christ liberates us from despair, because in Him we know not only our misery, but also our greatness." At the end of the event, the Pope celebrated the Eucharist in that same city. He beatified the priest Stefan Wincenty Frelichowski, who died in the concentration camp of Dachau.


      LICHEN, 8 (NE) Pope John Paul II blessed yesterday the new temple in the Sanctuary of the Virgin of Lichen. Designed to resemble the Basilica of Saint Peter in the Vatican, it is the largest church in Poland and the biggest built in Europe in this century. A bronze monument of the Pope weighing about 8 tons and dedicated to the Pontiff was also inaugurated.

      "I feel overwhelmed by this enormous building that, in its architectural richness, is an expression of faith and love toward the Virgin Mary and her Son," the Pope said during the ceremony. The sanctuary in Lichen, to which every year more than one million pilgrims go, dates to the middle of the XIX century, built after two Marian apparitions in 1813 and 1850.

      The rain was not an obstacle for the thousands of faithful that went to the blessing of the temple, that is hoped to be completely finished by the year 2000 and that should be able to hold more than 7,000 faithful seated and 15,000 standing.

      The Pope asked for the intercession of Holy Mary, "requesting for us a live faith, a strong faith, that doesn't fear difficulties, sufferings nor failures, a mature faith, without reservations, a faith that cooperates with the Holy Church in an authentic construction of the Mystic Body of Christ."

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 9, 1999       volume 10, no. 111


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