The banished cross
Fr. IRENEUSZ SKUBIŚ
Throughout their difficult history Poles have understood well what the sign of the cross is. The cross has been appreciated, loved and worshipped so much. By nature we are sincere and open and that’s why in our Homeland the cross is in all honourable places. The Servant of God John Paul II stressed the value of the cross in Zakopane. He called, ‘Defend this cross, from the Tatras to the Baltic!’ The cross is a matter of honour of all Poles, where in the world the Polish name and Polish house are there is also a place for Jesus’ cross.
But recently we have witnessed a strange conflict. I mean the cross that the scouts put to commemorate the tragedy our nation experienced on 10 April 2010. We were astonished to learn that the cross could not remain in front of the Presidential Palace. The President-elect is disturbed by the cross and the first thing he is going to do is to remove it. Can this cross not stand within the so-called public space? Or perhaps the cross will remind people of the late President and the whole plane crash, which is being explained – or rather attempted – in an extremely sluggish way...
We do not ascribe any political reasons to the Polish scouts who put the cross at this place. These are wonderful people who care for Poland and the values that have always built it. But the mighty of this world do not listen to the inner voice of the nation and thus they got the idea to remove the cross from the Presidential Palace.
Let us quietly consider this matter. We have referred to the words of John Paul II so many times. We have endeared ourselves to our cordial memory of him and what do we do with the cross, which John Paul II always carried so high and in the name of which he said, ‘Do not be afraid! Open the door to Christ!’... He would have used stronger words today, ‘Open the door to the cross of Jesus Christ!’ And we can see our authorities wondering where to put the cross, in which church it should be hidden to be forgotten and not to remind people of the tragedy and not to warn them. It is simple hypocrisy, a careless look at our society and history. It is short-sighted thinking.
There were several presidents after 1989. The Polish history has had more or less glorious events but the history of the cross has been always inscribed in people’s memory.
We celebrate various important anniversaries, for example the anniversary of the Battle of Grunwald in 1410 where the Polish knights crushed the Teutonic Knights, having the words of ‘Bogurodzica’ on their lips. In 1920 the Polish soldiers defeated the Bolsheviks, fighting in the name of the cross. The cross has always accompanied the Polish people. And whoever removes the cross, undoubtedly deserves to have a proper name and opinion. Since the Polish identity is connected with the acknowledgement of the identity of the cross, with the Gospel, with the Christian culture, with faith and the Church. Poland has no other way than the way of the cross. Therefore, it is good that the scouts pointed to the cross, that they reminded Polish youth that the cross is the sign of Jesus Christ, the sign and expression of our faith, belonging to God and hope of resurrection. Those young people also reminded us of Poland’s crucifixion in Katyn. Our Homeland was also crucified in the crash at Smolensk. Poland is also crucified in the plague of flooding and we need a great solidarity of the cross with the people affected by the tragedy. That’s why the cross should stretch its arms over the whole of Poland. It is to be liberation, way to better life, better love of neighbour, restoration of our national solidarity and compassion. There is no love without the cross. Although some people are disturbed by the cross so much Poland needs this cross. May this cross be carried to Czestochowa – Mary will always accept Christ’s cross. She will do it now when there is no place for this cross in front of the Presidential Palace.
I am sorry to state that those who have important functions today, who otherwise enjoy our respect, are simply insincere. They regard themselves as Catholics, receive the sacraments but their lives show that they follow only political reasons and even political hatred, adopting a specific ideology to their activities. How perverse it is to say that the cross is politicised. The cross cannot be politicised. It will always be unambiguously the sign of Jesus Christ, the sign of his passion and resurrection. One cannot understand the cross differently. And if someone gives another sense to the cross it is up to him. The strange thing is that some so-called moralists allowed to be caught in this philosophy of hypocrisy, that they did not understand that they were in the majesty of the cross of Jesus Christ...
We have encountered various crosses, crosses with different history. We can certainly call the cross, which is at the Presidential Palace, ‘Banished’, remembering the words of the carol ‘There was no place for you.’ But the real victory is only in the cross.