TO BE SALT IN ORDER TO SAVE WHAT IS REAL
Fr. Ireneusz Skubiś talks with archbishop Wacław Depo – the metropolitan of Częstochowa, the chairman of the Council for Mass Media KEP
Fr. IRENEUSZ SKUBIŚ: - on 3 October this year in Warsaw there has been the 259th Plenary Meeting of the Polish Episcopal Conference. When in the 80s I started working as an editor of the ‘Sunday’, in the Secretariat of the Polish Episcopate, after these meetings of the Episcopate there were sessions to which editors of Catholic newspapers were invited (about 40 people). Somebody from the secretariat of the Episcopate used to come to us (among the others the later bishop Alojzy Orszulik or bishop Jerzy Dąbrowski) and explained to us particular points of the message of bishops. In this way editorial offices learnt about what bishops were debating about, what the subject of the current anxiety of the Church was. One could sometimes ask for more exact data. These sessions were a valuable source of information. After the reform of the status of the Polish Episcopal Conference, carried out by bishop Tadeusz Pieronek, the Catholic Informative Agency was established. The messages from the Episcopal conference, read earlier during Sunday holy masses, were passed on by the Catholic Informative Agency to editorial offices and parishes. However, it seems that all the faithful should have an image of the most important matters of the Church, discussed by the Episcopate. Personally, I also feel a kind of weakness in the relations between the Episcopate and the faithful. Archbishop is a new chairman of the Episcopal Council for the Mass Media. Maybe it would be worth referring to these good practices? It is one thing. Another thing concerns the message of Catholic bishops in Poland and the Orthodox Church in Russia to our nations. How should we understand them?
ARCHBISHOP WACŁAW DEPO: - As far as the first thought of the question is concerned, it seems to me that long time ago the information canal used to be very narrow. The mass media in the Church used to be poorer, we did not have such a broad access to them. Apart from that, in passing on these materials to people there was a kind of auto-censorship. After all, letters or messages of the Episcopate which are read, are confirmed by the general secretary or somebody from bishops in the diocese till today. Why? Because beside the today’s informative flood, some information can be manipulated and duplicated, even not only to blur the truth, but to reverse it, make it a lie. Somebody might understand this or that information of a message on internet and accuse bishops of a lie. One would have to prove that it was not a subject of our discussions.
It is similarly with the aforementioned message of Catholic bishops in Poland and the Orthodox Church in Russia to our nations. It is not a message based on the similarity to the letter of Polish bishops to German bishops, but it is a message to nations. What is the most important is the fact that it is a gift of grace that the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church are speaking together. It is not only a fact that the Catholics and Catholic bishops speak to the Catholics and Catholic bishops in Russia and on the areas of the former Soviet Union, but we also speak together to the nations and to the Church, also the Orthodox Church. Not going into details of various historical events and painful dates – it is all about the matter of opening oneself up to the mutual truth, also to forgiveness, because we should be ready to forgive mistakes or faults in the name of the truth. It is the first step which is to bring us closer to one another after various painful events, like the Smoleńsk catastrophe. I think we should still put more effort here not to understand this letter as a kind of a political agreement, secretly made somewhere, between the representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church. It is the beginning of the road of bringing closer our nations and Churches.
And one more motif of the message: the approval of this road of the polish Church and the Polish Episcopate by the Holy See is a kind of preparation of the future visit of the Pope in Russia. As we know, John Paul II did not hide that he wanted this visit very much, he was invited both by Borys Jelcyn and Vladimir Putin, but there was not a real agreement and real opening oneself in this field.
– Are there any positive effects of this message?
– The chairman of the Polish Episcopal Conference has said about positive things twice which are his contribution. Although there are also other voices, he stated that this opening oneself is already seen. We thank God for them and we guard the truth which we have worked out together.
– Bishops were also concentrated on the issue of catechesis. Bishop Edward Materski used to look for an agreement on the government about the issue of catechesis in Poland. Is the teaching of religion endangered?
– Thank you for mentioning the person of the late bishop Edward Materski. Catechesis and the issue of religion at school were his life. he did not treat it as one of the issues with which he was dealing. His signature is under the decision of religion return to Polish schools in 1990. When some important issues were elaborated which had their reference to the Polish law and to the Concordat agreed between the government and the Holy See, the decision of Katarzyna Hall and today the decision of the minister Krystyna Szumilas, who placed religion outside the education schedule at schools, is a very dangerous path. During the last conference bishops addressed their request to the minister Szumilas about the promised novelization of a regulation by her, which changes a lot not only in practice, but, first of all, in the mentality of people associated with the school. The change in the financial field is also a very dangerous operation.
– We are getting prepared for the new pastoral year. During the meeting of the Episcopate archbishop Stanisław Gąbecki made a speech on this issue. We know the motto of this year: ‘To be the salt of the Earth’.
– Certainly, when we hear the evangelical word ‘salt’, we also see the ‘light’. One should also remind about the basic task of the Year of Faith here: clinging to Christ anew, who is the light on the roads of our life, and also somebody who guards values joining the man with God – like through the nature law (let’s mention: ‘he created them as a man and a woman’ – see Genesis 5.2; also Matthew 19.4;Mark 10.6) – and the consequences of whether the issue of the Decalogue and evangelical morality – were the salt which will save what is real and will allow for distinguishing what is a kind of a dangerous trend today, among the others, any kind of feminism and movements that are anti-family. This task, which is for the Church in Poland also inscribed in the Year of Faith, shows two paths. On the one hand – a personal relation with Christ, that is, new relations, or a confirmation, and later the acceptance of the whole very difficult program. If I meet Christ and build relation with Him, I will start loving Him – then I will carry the burden connected with His road. Carrying this or that burden of morality is the answer to God’s love.
– We are impressed by a great march in the defence of the Television Trwam. Bishops also undertook this issue. It requires explanation, especially that a delegate for the Television Trwam was assigned, who is archbishop Sławoj Leszek Głódź.
– The march in the defence of the Television Trwam has been really a phenomenon of the recent time in the sense of the peace protest against mendacity. We understand that there are various procedures of granting certain rights to particular broadcasting stations but refusing them to the Television Trwam is a very dangerous operation, especially that those who make such decisions were caught telling lies at once. Unfortunately, there are attempts to convince us into believing a lie and not only a particular man who is being persuaded into believing something but also the whole nation. It is anti-democratic, anti-Polish and anti-ecclesiastical. The peace manifestation, which showed that there is one truth and that we will not let others enslave us, is a very clear signal for us that there is power in unity and we must be working in this way.
Referring to the election of the archbishop Głódź as a delegate of the Polish Episcopal Conference for the Television Trwam, we must notice that he is a very responsible priest, guarding the roads of building on the truth and solidarity of Poles. His election for this post if a mission similar to the program council of the Radio Maryja, which the Episcopate gave its assistant and its representation, that is, the Catholic Information Agency, which despite the name ‘Catholic’ in the title, has only a program council consisting of bishops and priests. So, the Television Trwam was joined again to the group of bishops responsible for what is happening in the Church or for passing on the truth to others and guarding the borders of Christian morality. This television station fulfills its basic task and is an ecclesiastical broadcaster faithful to the teaching of the Gospel and the Magisterium of the Church.
– So, priest-bishops have expressed their support again for the Television Trwam and for granting the concession to it formally…..
– Yes, they have confirmed the right of the Television Trwam again to the place on the multiplex and it is an unanimous attitude of the whole Episcopate. It is not only defending this television station by delegating the archbishop Głódź for this matter, but also an attitude which shows a kind of injustice and –we should not be afraid of using this word – discrimination, not to say: a kind of system obduracy in not telling the truth. And it is a sin against the Holy Spirit – the obduracy in the evil is a very dangerous road. The Holy Spirit will break this shell sooner or later and I believe it strongly.