Instead of the fight against the cross we should undertake the fight against the crisis
Fr. Inf. Ireneusz Skubiś interviews Bishop Wojciech Polak – a new general secretary of the Polish Episcopal Conference
FR. INF. IRENEUSZ SKUBIŚ: - How will your previous function as Bishop for emigrants help Your Excellency in fulfilling a new function in the Polish Episcopate?
BISHOP WOJCIECH POLAK: - Two last years of my bishop ministration for the sake of the pastoral ministry among emigrants became an occasion to visit some Polonia places in the world and also to refer to contacts with bishops in those countries. So I hope that this – indeed very modest– experience which I gained in mutual contacts, is not only my personal enrichment, but it will also help me in a deeper understanding the pastoral ministry among our compatriots abroad and passing this care to other bishops. As I said before, now I would like somehow to be an ambassador of this pastoral care in the bosom of the Polish Bishops’ Conference. Moreover, I reckon that contacts made with bishops in this way, and also my five-year-old presence in the works of CCEE will turn out to be helpful in the work of the Secretaryship of the Episcopal Conference.
- How will Bishop define the most urgent problems of the Church in our country?
- I always look at the situation of the Church in the light of the Second Vatican Council, which in the pastoral Constitution ‘Gaudium et spes’ indicated that ‘happiness and hope, sadness and fear of people of our times, especially the poor and the oppressed, are also happiness and hope, sadness and fear of Christ’s disciples and nothing real human can exist which would not echoed in their hearts’. So, the most urgent problems of the Church in our country are really the problems of people of our times to whom the Church proclaims the Gospel and whom it calls to follow Christ, and these are not only the problems of the Church as an institution. Undoubtedly, these are happiness and hope, sadness and fear of young people who are often lost on their life roads, happiness and fear of the contemporary Polish families, challenges and tasks which they face in their often difficult situations. The care of the Church, not only in Poland, seems to be o the care for a language which the Church wants to speak to the contemporary man, giving him the Good News and such a pastoral style which helps and does not disturb a man so that he would find power and strength in Jesus to overcome his weaknesses.
- How will Bishop comment the results of the recent Parliamentary elections?
- Certainly, this pastoral care about a man cannot be separated from the context, also the social one in which he is supposed to live. Undoubtedly, the basic comment to the recent elections is the recurring question: why is the electoral attendance still so low? And there is another question: how to awaken the real sense of the responsibility for the fate of our country? Whereas post-electoral declarations seem to predict uneasy time probably of the confrontation or a fight for the cross in the Parliament, for example, as we hear about it. Instead the fight against the cross, I would advise the MPs to fight against the crisis and difficulties which appear on the horizon of the social life. So – less ideology and more authentic care for the common welfare.
- Do any ideas appear to restrain secularization?
- The problem of secularization is very complex. Some areas of human life are seen indeed, where we practically live in such a way as if God did not exist – however, it is difficult to say that we deal with a victorious origin of secularization. I rather see the privatization of faith, pushing it to the completely individual experience, without any real influence on the public life, on inter-human relations or readable Christian attitudes. In the contemporary society we deal with various forms of the private spirituality and, therefore, it is essential to show the beauty of Christ’s Gospel in a credible way. In the homily delivered on the day of the beatification of John Paul II, the Holy Father Benedict XVI, pointed, among the others, to the fact that Blessed John Paul II ‘this load of hope which was somehow seized by Marxism and the ideology of progress, rightly gave back the Christianity, restoring the Christian image of the hope in this way’. I am convinced that it is the only proper and the most suitable and the most effective remedy for all secular and individual forms of the privatization of faith that is, restoring the Christian image to different expectations and hopes of the contemporary people.
- Is the evangelization and to what extent is it a chance for the Church?
- First of all, the new evangelization is a chance for a man and for the Church is only as much as it will be able to use this challenge and the tool as best as possible. The only mottos or incentives will be to no avail. A real effort of proclaiming the Gospel is needed. Personally, I find the most adequate answer to the asked question in the recently published Apostle’s letter ‘Porta Fidei’: ‘Through His love Jesus Christ attracts people from each generation to Himself: at every time He summons the Church, entrusting it proclaiming the Gospel, with a command which is always new. For the faith grows when it is experienced as received love and when it is passed as an experience of grace and happiness’. Whereas, in what this more convincing engagement of the Church for the sake of the new evangelization should specifically find its fullest expression today – it should just be both the subject of intra-church reflection and the pastoral plans or programmes, certainly, adjusted both to the sensitivity and a life situation of the contemporary man.