There is hope
Fr. IRENEUSZ SKUBIŚ
We often face scepticism as far as the papal visits are concerned, and we show disbelief whether they will have some effect or make people’s faith grow. This was the case of John Paul II’s visits. When he was to visit various countries in the world, especially those secularised ones, people asked why he intended to go there and what should be expected. And on such occasions there were many a time contemptuous opinions. Nevertheless, the Holy Father went there, met inhabitants of those countries and it turned out that people rejoiced at his visits; they discovered new truths and realities that had been somehow hidden for them – rediscovered truths were the common facts that occurred during the pilgrimages of John Paul II. However, the apostolic visits of Benedict XVI are seen as events that unveil many phenomena, and above all that unveil the religious reality. Since it always turns out that man is a seeking being, is a ‘homo viator’ – man the wanderer, and besides seeking other things he seeks God and certain religious contents. We know very well that we are living in a torrent of various mottos, substitute subjects whereas the reality, the truth about us, is hidden deeply in human hearts. It was also confirmed that those who should have had deep hope and strengthened others in it – I mean the members of the French Bishops’ Conference – did not have enough faith in man as God’s child and did not have enough power to convince people. Today some of them are surprised to see what they should have foreseen about the visit of Benedict XVI. The Pope met young people who – according to the predicted opinions – were not to come for the meeting; he met a large group of scientists about whom there were also doubts whether they were going to come; he met the French people although it had been predicted that the majority at the meetings would be foreigners. Numerous educated people, seeking a certain atmosphere to reflect on and to find answers to their urgent questions, came to meet the Holy Father. The Pope, who came to them as St Peter’s Successor, brought a whole bunch of evangelical reflection with him. He came to young people who were seeking some sense of life. Sometimes we do not know them enough; we wonder whether they have still some religious convictions. It turns out that an enormous need for faith and a huge potential to put it into practice lie dormant in them. All these things also lead to a serious reflection on pastoral ministry, to answers to many questions, among others whether pastoral care is ‘efficient’; whether priests in major seminaries are well prepared to conduct pastoral ministry or whether they have stopped at some stage and are in stagnation, and they are not very dynamic... At the same time we can see that many priests are very dynamic and show a unique zeal of faith. This exerts a strong influence on the faithful who seeing the example of their priest experience the community of the Church. The pilgrimage of Benedict XVI to France gave the world and the Church great hope that there is some foundation in the hearts of people of the 21st century to build upon and this gives the Church – including the Church in France – a perspective that is not imaginative but is ‘cum fundamento in re’ (with foundation in the thing) because the foundation is the presence of people who listened to the words of the Holy Father; who rejoiced at his visit, who want to be with him. Then there is hope that Europe, being a little religiously numb, can be revived; Europe has already felt like a rock, a closed stone, which nobody wants to take out from its loneliness. May Europe wake up as quickly as possible. May Christian family wake up. May our parishes wake up and may they show their new possibilities, new powers and new strengths. One should break this sad dream, this being in lethargy and sadness. The visit of Benedict XVI to France shows that today one can and – should! – live with hope put in Lord God and one should revive areas of people’s reflections and desires. It is good that the Holy Father Benedict XVI has followed the footsteps of his great Predecessor; that he goes to people, to the world and makes it alive, giving hope. We have become witnesses to the hope that Europe will not lose its faith in Christ; that it will make its faith more dynamic and that it can flower for him.