Poland in the perspective of 30 years after the first pilgrimage of John Paul II
Fr. IRENEUSZ SKUBIŚ
At the initiative of the editorial board of ‘Niedziela’ a press conference, presenting the DVD film ‘Pielgrzym’ [Pilgrim] directed by Andrzej Trzos-Rastawiecki, was held in the Office of the Polish Bishops’ Conference in Warsaw on 3 June 2009. Since on the 30th anniversary of the First Pilgrimage of the Holy Father John Paul II to his Homeland we all want to feel the mood of his visit, to return to that difficult but at the same time joyful moments of that memorable visit. The period of 30 years is a lot. Many people were born after the visit and the most important person John Paul II passed away and so did Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski, Bishop Stefan Barela of Czestochowa, numerous priests, participants of those wonderful days. Many people are phoning me asking to give them back those days of great joy and hope. Since we experienced the joy of great renewal of Poland that had been in the communists’ clutches for a long time. We cast off the yoke of the Kremlin and the party that followed its commands in such a perfect way. Today we profoundly look at this and actually cannot understand how it could have happened that in the 20th century the nations were in such slavery.
Through that perspective we look at contemporary Poland about which we say that is independent – we have free elections, there is no censorship, we can freely discuss things. But we can see alarming clouds over Poland, too. One can see them in our lost economy where almost all sectors have been sold. There is no censorship but the media are not independent as we dreamt of – they allow only the voices that favour the guidelines of their owners. And the voice of the Church is limited in the media, which can be also seen in the project of the new bill on the media. So far it has been clear that Christian values have been taken into consideration in the media messages. Today, in the new bill this was cancelled. Someone wanted to remove Christian values from the bill although ca. 90% of Poland’s population is Catholic and our nation has been baptised... But during elections our politicians find their ways to the Church and convince us to be good Christians, even they receive the Sacrament of Matrimony to show that they are practising Catholics. At the same time they allow bills against the Church and the spirit of the Gospel. How can we explain that?... The same concerns the new regulations concerning pilgrimages. They violate the concordat, striking against the religious movement in Poland. One cannot be indifferent to these matters and cannot see what is happening in the country. On the one hand, we must stress the praiseworthy situations for the nation and the Church during the past 30 years: awakening of the European spirit of freedom, but on the other hand, we must see our the drawbacks, serious quarrels among the nation, the politicised authorities (having parallel patterns in the life of the nation), making them forget about the care for citizens’ welfare, a decrease in moral level connected with relishing the new economic-social system, lack of love for the homeland... It is good that we have freedom but we have not had our industry, our media concerned about the interests of the nation, yet – all has become foreign properties. We should really care for our Homeland. We should reflect as soon as possible on the perspective of Polish schools, the system of Polish education, health service so that people stop fearing about their fate. Polish families are experiencing big problems and they should undoubtedly receive help if we want to speak about brighter future. Therefore, our reflection concerning the use of the chance that appeared 30 years ago is difficult and painful. And during our celebrations we cannot focus only on solemn meetings and lectures. We must think about our nation, the condition of our society, our law and Parliamentarism, whether we are not losing Poland...We must also return to the speech of John Paul II delivered 30 years ago not to admire it but to make a deep examination of conscience.