Bishops' Letter on the occasion of 350th anniversary of the miraculous defence of Jasna Gora against the Swedish troops
1. In the Jasna Gora National Shrine the bishops together with the faithful who gathered at Mass and the whole Church in Poland thanked for the pontificate of the Servant of God John Paul II.
A special occasion for that thanksgiving was the placing of the new crowns on the Jasna Gora Icon. The Holy Father blessed the crowns on 1 April, the day before his death. He wrote in his letter to the General of the Pauline Order, 'I dedicate the Church in Poland to her motherly care so that the Church, through her testimony of holiness and humility, always fosters hope for better world in the hearts of all believers. I ask for courage for all those who are responsible for Poland's future so that they could defend everything good that serves Poland following the example of Fr Augustyn Kordecki'.
2. The bishops welcome the announcement of the apostolic visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Poland, which is planned in 2006. They thank him for this decision and are looking forward to meeting the Successor to Peter. They have also expressed their gratitude for the opening of the cause for beatification of John Paul II and for cherishing vivid memory of his Predecessor in his many speeches and meetings.
3. The World Youth Days belong to the numerous lasting fruits of the pontificate of John Paul II. The 20th jubilee youth meeting in Cologne was announced in Toronto in 2002 and was prepared to a considerable extent by the Pope of the turn of the millennium. It was Benedict XVI who was to carry out the work. This was the time of a real meeting of the Church of the youth - the generation of John Paul II. For everybody, especially for the Church in Germany and the Archdiocese of Cologne, these were days of important witness of young people who were seeking Christ and experiencing the joy of meeting him and their brothers. During the Cologne day of the youth one could feel the presence of two Popes everywhere.
The bishops thank the Polish youth and priests who accompanied them for their participation in catecheses and meetings with the Holy Father and hope that the words of the papal sowing will yield fruit in the lives of all those who participated directly or indirectly, through television and other media, in the events during those days.
4. The bishops also thank both Popes for preparing and editing the new Compedium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Pope John Paul II made the Catechism of the Catholic Church published in 1992 and after 10 years the bishops asked the Holy Father to prepare an abbreviated version of that Catechism so that everyone could embrace the whole panorama of the Catholic faith. The team, headed by Cardinal Ratzinger, prepared an abbreviated version, which Pope Benedict XVI announced the Church on the Feast of Peter and Paul the Apostles in 2005. Two months later a Polish translation was published and the first to get to know it were the young people in Cologne. The Bishops ask all faithful and all those who are seeking God to look at the Compedium. May it serve particular believers, families and communities, catechists and priests. May it also be a tool in religious instruction for adults in parishes. May the new school and catechetical year become an occasion to show even greater care for the young generation of Poles. 5. On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of 'Solidarity' the bishops encourage to offer thanksgiving for all good that has been done in Poland and Europe thanks to the events of August '80. They were the fruit of Cardinal Wojtyla's election and his first visit to his Homeland. The Holy Father spoke many a time about 'Solidarity' and to 'Solidarity'. His words, spoken in Gdansk during his visit in 1999, are still an invitation to preserve the legacy of 'Solidarity'. The Pope said, 'This was an event which signalled a turning point in the history of our nation and in the history of Europe. "Solidarnosc" opened the doors of freedom to countries enslaved by the totalitarian system, tore down the Berlin wall and contributed to the unity of Europe after the divisions, which followed the Second World War. We must never cancel this from our memory! This event is part of our national heritage. At that time I heard you say in Gdansk: "There is no freedom without solidarity". Today we need to say: "There is no solidarity without love". For all of us, especially for the people of Solidarity, these words are a call for an examination of conscience concerning social love, national unity and care for human being and family. Benedict XVI appointed the Metropolitan of Krakow as his representative for the celebrations of August '80. Polish bishops as well as bishops from the countries that regained their political freedom because of 'Solidarity' will take part in the celebrations. May these days be a time of prayer for Poland.
6. The next two months will be exceptionally important to Poland. We have parliamentary and presidential elections. The most important thing is that we should take part in them. The law as well as quality of effectiveness of the government, which the new Parliament will choose, depends on the people we will vote for. We all should care that law should serve human dignity and family and that our representatives would want and be able to care for common good with prudence.
The Church, proclaiming ethical principles related to social and political life, reminds us of the sacrosanct right to life from conception to natural death, human rights, including the right to work, and fundamental family rights, guaranteed by pro-family politics. We expect these things from the new Parliament and from the new president who, having the final tool of veto on parliamentary bills, should guard life and marriage understood as a lasting relationship between man and woman. That's why it is so important whom we are going to vote for. Our patriotism and real love for the Fatherland will be manifested in that. Let no one say this is not his business. Every Christian is obliged to vote and participate in politics as Pope John Paul II reminded us.
'Every citizen ought to be mindful of his right and his duty to promote the common good by using his vote' (cf. Gaudium et spes, 75). Let us vote for people who have been involved on the level of local and state authorities; for honest and competent people who fulfil ethical criteria; for people who will be able to serve man, family and common good. The bishops encourage to pray for the Homeland and the coming elections. May the prayer continue in all parishes, communities as well as diocesan and national shrines. From Jasna Gora the bishops give their blessing to all those who care for man and family and the heritage that is called Poland.
Polish Cardinals, Archbishops and Bishops who gathered at Jasna Gora.
Czestochowa, 26 August 2005.