Prelate priest Ireneusz Skubiś talks with cardinal Stanisław Nagy SCJ
Fr. IRENEUSZ SKUBIŚ: - During the Warsaw march of solidarity in the defence of the Television ‘Trwam’ ‘Wake up, Poland!’ On 29 September 2012 somebody, putting his hand on heart, quoted the words of Wyspiański: ‘Here is just Poland!’ . How to understand it? What Poland is it all about? How could your excellency define the present priorities for Poland?
CARDINAL STANISŁAW NAGY: - 11 November is a great Polish National Holiday in the past. I emphasize it straightaway: in the past. Talking about Poland today is bending over the fact how much the nation has experienced and what it has gone through, and that it is the first time it is being forced into the belief that it is not great, that Poland is not homeland which is important in the life of every Pole. There are editorial offices and mass media which wants to postpone Poland aside in the eyes of Poles, diminish it if not to remove what is great beautiful and existing for hundreds years, from its cards. It is the contemporary drama of our homeland. In addition, there are other difficult matters.
We are bending over other problems, the economic situation, we discuss these or those mistakes of the contemporary political life, saying that it proves the serious situation in Poland. In my opinion, 11 November of this year is an occasion to call Poles to conversion, to start loving their homeland anew, to admit their belonging to perceive this GREAT which inscribed itself in its history.
And here a great help - and also remorse – was and is Pope John Paul II. In his consciousness it was unacceptable to diminish Poland, his beloved, great homeland. Not only did he admit his belonging to his homeland, but he engaged all himself in it, showing its uniqueness both in the past and at the contemporary times. This greatness of Poland has survived till today. Throughout the year 1920, throughout the years of remedial Poland, throughout big events of the National Army which made us be an example for the whole world and, finally, through the breakthrough which happened in Poland thanks to ‘Solidarity’. So, there is no reason to diminish Poland, to take away the greatness of patriotism from Poles, although they made and are making these or those mistakes, also at present.
Hence there is a great significance of 11 November. Celebration of the nation, celebration of the homeland, celebration marked by years, enthusiasm. Today we must give a clear answer to those groups of people who want to take away patriotism from us. And these are the present groups of people and we even guess why they are doing it, because maybe even if they call themselves Poles, they do not have any homeland and they have never had it, envying the past which we have, and they are trying to take away our patriotism. These are mass media from particular environments, especially the two ones: one which is defined as anti-ecclesiastical, anti-Catholic and also a well-known periodical - I will not say its name because everybody knows which one I mean. In addition, there are also other magazines which also deal with this diminishing the homeland dimension of our country. I must appeal to the healthy society to do a examination of conscience about reading these periodicals or favoring these environments. They are in Poland but they are not from Poland.
On this basis all other matters in Poland there are much smaller ones even if they are very painful.
– Today it is heard that Poland is one big Amber Gold. Can we really agree with this statement? How do Priest Cardinal see the future of our homeland, Polish children and families?
– This question is divided into two parts. One is – the matter Maber Gold. Unfortunately, the scandal is neither the first or the last one. It is painful and must hurt every Pole. In Poland there is a kind of the climate of scandals. There are many unexplained scandals, reaching to the supreme spheres of the authority which cost our society a lot. It is worrying that these scandals are systematically repeated and then a matter is somehow gone. We start to be a country of scandals, that is, the one in which particular groups reaching the spheres of the authority are making business, for which ordinary people pay. It makes us think over what is happening in Poland.
And another problem – what future can we expect? To some extent the phenomenon of emigration is an answer to it. Poles are running away from Poland because they do not have any conditions for good life here now, nor the future. They sometimes undertake very humiliating jobs which give them a possibility of earning their living though. We do not have a guarantee that they will come back and it seems that this trend, resulting from fear about what Poles are going to face in Poland, is still getting stronger.
The recent marches were somehow demonstrating it. It has not happened in Poland for ages, when thousands of people come out into streets, in order to protest against the existing state of things. It is not one protest but there are dozens of demonstrations overwhelming not only one city but a lot of places in Poland. The demonstration of 20 September this year is an unusual event. Certainly, it was stifled somehow by mass media, but it has its own meaning: on the one hand it is deeply religious, on the other hand – it is patriotic, and on the third – it includes a political element as well. It was taking place with dignity, with the participation of nearly whole Poland. It is a loud cry: we are not fine here and we are not going to be fine if something does not change. Maybe it is not said in details what is going to change, maybe people will say it later, but the fact of calling for a change does not raise any doubts.
– Does the country protect the fate of Poles enough for the nearest and further future?
– The society is convinced that at this time the country is not giving it any guarantee of the better future. These loud voices of protest are nothing else but only an expression of belief that the country is not efficient here. If it is not efficient today, it will not be better tomorrow. What’ more: the nation coming out into the street shows, even with a finger, what it is afraid of. Well, it is afraid of the fact that Poland has removed any workplaces, and, hence, is still endangered by high unemployment, that is, a problem of poverty. It is also seen that economy is not developing well. The financial crisis may touch – if it is not touching now – all of us. This all composes the fear of the nation that its homeland is in a kind of a collapse.
I share this fear of the nation. The argument which proves this fear, is high unemployment, which has already become a generator of the poverty among significant part of the society. And nothing suggests that it would be going to decrease, but in contrary – there is a danger that it may increase. So, the future is not going to be in brighter colours.
– What would Priest Cardinal like to say to the Polish nation and everybody responsible for the future of Poland about the participation in the next parliamentary and self-governing elections? Are we still able to defend the Polish spirit of the nation in solidarity? Shouldn’t the issue of the elections become also a subject of the care of Polish priests within the Catholic social teaching?
– Prelate priest touch an extremely delicate issue. The society is very sensitive to what the representatives of the Church say about the elections. I do not have a right to speak on behalf of the whole Polish church, but it is essential if most people will participate in the elections. The Church, priests and also bishops and parish priests must speak more about it, emphasizing that we should elect people whose opinion about the world goes together with our Catholic conscience, those people who have political and social assets, so that they could fulfill their social roles effectively, people open to the cooperation with others but always in the spirit and respect of ethical rules. Every attempt of escape from elections is simply unacceptable.
– What wishes would Priest Cardinal say to the Polish bishops and priests in connection with such a difficult situation of Poles and for the sake of Christian image of our nation, especially in the Year of Faith?
– It is an important but not easy question. As a useless servant, with deep humility, I want the Polish Church to deepen its faith and to be taught how to defend faith in a more effective way, especially against primitive attacks of those who went away from God. The Church is bending over the fate of homeland and the nation, especially people needing support the most. And today it is a duty of bishops and parish priests to take care of the Smoleńsk families. These are people who have experienced a great trauma after the catastrophe of 10 April for two and a half years. And instead of curing these Smoleńsk wounds, they are still being reopened, because the families of the catastrophe casualties are not even sure if they come to the graves of their relatives.
I would not dare give any tips to the Polish Episcopate, I will only pray in the intention of the fulfillment of this all.