The Church - the youth of the humankind
Alicja Dołowska talks to Archbishop Henryk Hoser SAC, the Ordinary of the diocese of Warsaw and Praque
Alicja Dołowska: We witness the attack of the leftist environments on the Church. It is certainly a fight for the government of souls but is it only in the ideological dimension?
ABP HENRYK HOSER SAC: - More and more frequent and sometimes massive attacks on the Church may be shocking or surprising to us but we should not forget that being an opposition sign is being a constant condition of the Church. Throughout its whole existence, beginning from its founder Jesus Christ, the Church is a sign of opposition and, as a result, it became an object of different kinds of aggression. Please, note that Cardinal Karol Wojtyła, when asked in 1976 to preach a retreat in Vatican in the presence of Pope Paweł VI, chose and developed just this thread - the opposition sign (Lucas 2, 32-35). Therefore, those who know the essence of the Church, its history, are not surprised that the Church is an obstacle for many environments, trends or ideologies; it is not tolerated but fought against in different ways. And these are comparably small dangers to the Church, because the Church gets strengthened through the confirmation of its role of being the 'opposition sign'. It becomes strong and is more faithful to itself. It is very important for the Church to be faithful to itself because it is the institution of God and the man. And being faithful to itself, it is faithful to its Head, that is, Jesus Christ.
- What is dangerous in the teaching of the Church for those who are openly fighting against the Church?
- The Church is, first of all, very often a contradiction of those truths which are conveyed by different ideological trends and transient theories. If we speak about an ideology, it is worth mentioning that this notion appeared just after the French revolution, exactly in 1796. Not earlier than the end of XVIII century this word had been used for the first time and the after-revolutionary ideology, resulting from the whole thinking evolution of XVIII century was somehow a replacement of metaphysics and ontology, that is, of this basic philosophical thought, also theological, which says about the essence of existence, being, the proper nature of the man. The ideology developed in different forms in XIX century, mainly in the Marxism trend. John Paul II reminded that it had been connected with the so-called masters of suspiciousness: Marx, Freud and Nietzsche.
- The contemporary ideology is not original, is it?
- It still refers to one of the three ministers of suspiciousness, accusing the man of different bad motivations, simultaneously having ambitions of bringing happiness to the new epoch, which ends tragically. An embarrassing picture of these ideologies was the XX century, when they turned out to be brutal and entailed vast numbers of human victims. It may always be like this.
- Priest Archbishop is citing words of Primate Stefan Wyszyński: 'The right to criticize the Church belongs to one who has made a big effort and worked hard for the Church'. Basing on the socio-religious survey, Your Excellency states that, unfortunately, the majority of the faithful in the Church is passive and their lack of understanding of the Church makes some Catholics easily join those who do not only criticise the Church but even fight it. What happened with us?
- Those who, according to the words of Primate Stefan Wyszyński, have made effort and worked hard for the Church are distinguished by two features. They love this Church because they recognized it, and, loving it, they discover its nature. A big mistake is reading the reality of the Church - to which we impute a feature of a competitive side in the political market - as only one of many social organizations. The Church is an institution which goes beyond the visible world and is understandable only in the perspective of transcendentalism. So, these values and realities which are invisible beings, and thus they are not chimerical but more eternal than something which is material and transient. Hence, learning about the Church in its essence, that is, as the sacrament of salvation, this area of space and time, in which the man reaches his final purpose, gives an answer to the question what the Church is. And rather: who the Church is, because it is composed of people who create it. The essence of the Church is read badly by those who reduce it to the caricature, for example of a political party. Whereas, it is easy to criticize the Church from the position of an outer observer who sees only an imperfect human side of the Church. After all, the Church has never denied that, apart from being a community of the saints, it is also a community of the sinful called to conversion.
- We begin each Mass from the confession that we are sinful, we make an act of contrition...
- We want to make our act of contrition, not anybody else's. The Church in its whole sense of the reality admits that among the members of the Church are those who are aiming at the holiness but are not often the saints. This conscious look at the Church is also the best answer to all this criticism which is excessively demanding from the Church the heroic holiness from everybody, while the beatified and canonized are only a sample of all the saints who, according to God's plan, will reach to their life purpose finally. We should expect more objectivism from critics, and more deepness and truth in what they do, and, first of all, the clarity of purposes for which they do it. I also think that it is not noticeable that the Church, unlike any other institution, respects the human freedom.
- Despite commandments forbidding deeds which are inconvenient for so many...
- Despite all the commandments which are often formulated in imperatives. In one of my sermons I compared them to road signs of command and prohibition which nobody questions because people know that only compliance with them protects a man from death or disability. Also these commandments are categorical but they all refer to the human freedom.
- Although Priest Archbishop speaks about the influx of neo-pagan culture, which influences also the Catholics, he notices many signs of the spiritual renaissance, the omen of the springtide of the Church. How are they manifested?
- In Poland I notice a new quality in the form of creating environments which have not existed before and are created now, getting larger and being more conscious of their own role. The Church in its own composition becomes much richer then before and the environments which are often real social elites will have influence on our social, political and economic life. The bigger and bigger influence not in the sense of gaining the authority or the worldly dominance, but, first of all, as 'these evangelical yeasts' will cause the fact that our society will become more just, will be a community of people friendlier to one another, and, first of all, people who discover a proper greatness of a man which is getting more and more lost today. And the Church is distinguished in an extremely interesting and dynamic way in the form of various spiritual trends, completing one another and simultaneously being a lively evidence for multitude and fruitfulness of the gifts of the Holy Spirit and His action among the faithful. In the laic Europe we can see 'tiny tufts of growing grass '- environments and places where the Church is being re-born. I think that it is still - and never will stop being - the youth of the humankind.
- Does the fact that Priest Archbishop has been a missionary for 21 years, indicate any tasks towards the 'worse' Prague where we have the biggest areas of poverty, unemployment, the length of life shorter by 16 years than the rich Wilanow? Does Your Excellency also define the activity in Warsaw-Prague diocese as a mission?
- Certainly, I do! Every bishop has to fulfil his mission, every bishop is chosen for a mission because he is a successor of Apostles. I have a prescribed mission, I am aware of it and I pray everyday to read it properly and realize it well because we must have a lot of such penetrating intelligence to discover the life situation of our diocesans, first of all, poor, forgotten people who find it difficult to live. It is true that Prague used to be a part of poor Warsaw. However, it is changing. New Warsaw which is appearing, causes that Prague will completely change its image after some time, from the point of view of investments creating new Prague culture. However, we cannot deny that there are not very serious social problems here: the loneliness of elder people, alcoholism, divorces in families, unemployment, but, at the same time, there is a lot of good will and people in need are often not lonely. They can always find help.
- As priest and doctor, Priest Archbishop has engaged himself in expressing the opposing attitude of the Church against the method in vitro, by propagating napro-technology - a method which treats infertility and does not contradict the Christian ethics. Does Priest Archbishop see a chance to stop this 'progress' realized on the worldly scale? Or, as many scientists state, it is impossible to stop experiments on 'creating a man by a man' because it has been an age-long temptation of science?
- It is true that it is a temptation of science, especially, the technology. Today biotechnology enables the interference in the human life. And because the development of biotechnology is realized in the geometrical progress, it is more and more radical towards the biological human structure. These attempts will, certainly, be repeated. Hence, there is an absolute necessity that science and technology should develop with the ethics of science and technology, which puts limits. Nowadays, the need or possibility to put some limits is negated. Whereas the biotechnological interference in the human life causes its deformation and, finally, death. Hence, this radical applying of such methods as in vitro fertilization in laboratories, that is, a type of breeding, not characteristic for the man, who is a biological entity but on a higher level of psychosomatic and spiritual existence - is a danger because it excludes what is genuinely human. These are inhuman ways of breeding the man, which bring harm especially to all children born from this procedure. Their life is obtained at the cost of the life of many human beings. Later these children demand their beginning. There are such situations in the countries which started applying this technology earlier. We must increase care over these children - because they may experience different kinds of personal tragedies later, we must help them not to be the victims of unconcern of technicians who do it. Besides, we should not forget that a large financial market stands behind this kind of the biotechnology. Undoubtedly, we have a phase of a large mercantilism of medicine, which is extremely dangerous for the man.