THE CHURCH ALSO ON PERIPHERIES
Fr. IRENEUSZ SKUBIŚ
The first pilgrimage of the Holy Father Francis to Brazil had many segments. First of all, it was a meeting with the youth of the world. It was a reference to what was started by our compatriot John Paul II, also a reference to the VI World Youth Days in Częstochowa in 1991. Therefore, Poland is looking at the World Youth Days in a friendly and tender way. After all, John Paul II confessed that thanks to Częstochowa, Poland, the World Youth Days took on a really international dimension, became great days, an important signal for young people in the world, that there is somebody who cares about each of them.
We remember very well the Days of the Youth in Paris, Madrid, Manila, Denver, Sydney, Cologne and others. Now pope Francis was going to Rio with apostolic eagerness, although we know that journeys cost him a lot. He went to the South America from where he came, to the ‘end of the world’, as he said, comprising the Holy See of St. Peter, similarly as John Paul II mentioned at that moment – that he came from ‘a faraway country’. He went there in order to meet with the youth of the world, and the youth did not disappoint him – 3.7million of young people at the meeting in Rio was something unusual. Those days were beautiful and unique, in an excellent scenery arranged by God and people…
Certainly, not only the very youth participated in this great feast, but also bishops and priests accompanying the youth, and conducting smaller meetings and conferences. There were also a lot of volunteers. It was a great logistic event, on which Rio should be congratulated, as well as, the Polish group with bishop Henryk Tomasik, participating in the World Youth Days.
The Holy Father teaches young people dynamism of faith: ‘Go and teach all nations’ (Mt 28.19) – this was a motto of the 28th World Youth Days which was inscribed very well in the pontificate of the pope Francis. The Holy Father had an occasion also to address his words to bishops of Brazil and other countries of the South America directly. He spoke about problems, which the Church from those areas is experiencing, he was teaching a new look at the structure of work, new attitudes and more effective in pastoral ministry. He reminded bishops of the fact that Churches are supposed to take care of the subjectivity of the Catholics, so that a man who is a Catholic man, for example in the Latin America, would feel responsible for his Catholicism, and participate in decisions important for the Church, would belong to the pastoral, diocesan and parish council. There were a lot of wise and practical words. These were unusual reminders.
It is seen that this Pope is going towards a new way of understanding of pastoral ministry. He seems to be a somehow lonely pastor, but is being followed by his sheep. Indeed our European Church sometimes looks a bit like the Church of prelates and canons and the Holy Father appeals that we should build the pastoral Church, which is coming out to people, onto diverging roads, which is interested in the human being with love and determination, and comes out onto peripheries. This was the way how the mission of the Church was understood by St. Francis, and St. Ignatius Loyola. This kind of teaching attracts, is convincing and instructive, and the program which Francis outlined for Brazilian bishops, has elements of the encyclical!
Therefore, I think that this apostolic journey is a success of this Pope. It gives a perspective of a new way holding of the papal office, which is modern, and also deep, in relation to the Church. So, great hopes are connected with this pontificate and this way of pastoral ministry of the Church, which should be much closer to the man, and in which there is no place for indolence.
How closely related the pope Francis is to the apostolic work of St. Paul the Apostle! The famous black suitcase with which he arrived, reminds Paul’s saying: ‘Omnia mea mecum porto’ – Everything which is mine, I am bringing with myself, that is: I do not have much, but I have the most important things…
As it concerns the election of Cracow for the next World Youth Days in 2016 – it is understandable that there is great joy, because it is also a great chance. Surely, in this way, the pope Francis pays tribute to blessed John Paul II and Poland. Certainly, it will be a great challenge for the Church in Poland and for our country – but, surely, God will give His blessing…..