TIME TO FINISH TRAMPLING ON CHRISTIAN CONSCIENCES
Prelate priest Ireneusz Skubiś talks with archbishop dr. Wacław Depo
Fr. IRENEUSZ SKUBIŚ: – Archbishop, please let me start with my personal memories. In the second half of January 1984 I was conducting an interview with the third bishop of Częstochowa – Stefan Bareła who was dying at that time. Then he said very firmly: ‘Remember that pastoral ministry in Poland must remain pastoral ministry of Maryja’. I took the statement of the dying bishop as his testament. I also remember that when the fourth bishop was to come to Częstochowa, we were asking the Pauline Fathers what bishop it was going to be. And they answered confidently that it was going to be a bishop of Maryja. And bishop Stanisław Nowak came to Częstochowa at that time, who was really devoted to Our Lady. When in 2011 we were waiting for the fifth bishop of Częstochowa, we received a message that it was going to be bishop Wacław Depo from the diocese of Zamojść-Lubaczów. On the occasion of the first anniversary of this nomination we would like to express appreciation to the pastor of the Częstochowa archdiocese of Maryja, and also remind that we have a bishop of Maryja, a man very devoted to Our Lady, the Queen of Poland. Would Archbishop like to say something about His devotion to Maryja?
ARCHBISHOP WACŁAW DEPO: - Before thousand years we received a gift and heritage of Christian faith from the kindred Czech nation. So, since the year 966 beside the cross of Christ, Maryja and Her cult have been inseparable signs of the identity of the Polish nation. In fact, without the mystery of baptism one cannot say about the history of Poland, about uniting of people from various tribes into one nation. The cult of Maryja is a heritage which we must never lose if we want to speak about the future of the Polish nation and the faith of the Church on our land. I also received this faith from heart of my relatives, parents and the community of the Church of this land. Therefore I will try to be the first servant of Maryja at Her throne at Jasna Góra, in our Homeland and in the whole Church.
- How do Archbishop experience your mission as a pastor of the place of Our Lady?
- In the very beginning, when I came here, standing at Jasna Góra in front of Our Lady and Her Son, I said very important words, which I had learnt from blessed John Paul II: ‘Maryja, tell Christ about us, about our another difficult Polish day. This Christ whom we have come to invite today anew into our uneasy and unknown future’. In this first year of my ministry, after beautiful ceremonies at Jasna Góra on 3 May, 26 August, unfortunately, a very painful date of 9 December 2012 came. We all know that it is a blow which must agitate everybody who feels a Pole and a Catholic. Therefore we say ‘no’ to any form of hypocrisy, any form of losing this treasure which is the Miraculous Image of Our Lady at Jasna Góra, our Queen of Poland. We must always remember that it is a wonderful power and defense of our nation given to us by Christ. If we lose the character of this place and the spiritual dimension of our standing in front oh Mother, then we will not know who we are and what our future is. Therefore we are calling: Maryja, tell Christ about us.
- A special presence of Our Lady in the archdiocese of Częstochowa is a sign of Polish identity. Archbishop stands like on guard of this Polish identity. Pastoral ministry which you are conducting, has a dimension of Maryja. We would like the archdiocese of Częstochowa be a pioneer in the cult of Our Lady and deserve for the name of the spiritual capital of Poland.
- We must take the calling anew which was expressed here, at Jasna Góra, by John Paul II, saying also about himself: ’Here I learnt to be a man of entrustment’. It seems to me that every priest, everybody faithful to this diocese, also communities of consecrated life which are a kind of a bulwark of Jasna Góra and at Jasna Góra -everybody must rethink the matter of their personal response to God’s love which reveals itself just in this place through Mother. If we lose the character of personal responsibility, then we can disperse what God prepared for us with his grace. Therefore, during our meetings, I call both brother-priests and believers to think about their responsibility for this range of tasks which we are to undertake here from God’s will, on the land of Częstochowa. I would like to remind also important words saying that if this cry which comes from Jasna Góra, is sometimes a painful and worrying cry, which must be accepted not rejected. Unfortunately, a part of our nation and some people who compose the city of Częstochowa and the land of Częstochowa, do not appreciate this treasure so much which was given to us here. Therefore we are calling for faithfulness and responsibility of everybody without any exception.
- Today we are witnesses of media conducting human thoughts. Not only personally, but also via media we often see and hear Archbishop at the time of the Appeal prayer at Jasna Góra and we pray together. It is an important presence of media. Archbishop was nominated a chairman of the Council for Mass Media of the Polish Episcopal Conference half a year ago. And in reference to this function I would like to ask about a recent very important matter. On 27 December the National Broadcasting Council informed about a contest for last four places on the multiplex of the ground-based digital television. It is a very important issue for the Church in Poland, because the Television Trwam collected nearly 2.5 million signatures of support. We also know that there were over 140 street manifestations with the famous slogan: ‘We will not give the Television Trwam to you’. How do Your Excellency see this great voice of the God’s people who demand the Catholic television? These vast crowds expressed their attitude for the Church and now they are expecting the support from the hierarchy of the Catholic Church. Would Archbishop like to express your attitude in this very important matter?
- When I think about the character and the essences of my ministry as the metropolitan of Częstochowa, and also as the chairman of the Council for Mass Media of the Polish Episcopal Conference, two words come to my mind: care and responsibility. In fact from the very beginning, I came here into a field of struggles for the truth about ourselves through a decision of the self-government about financing the in vitro procedure. It is very complex and also painful problem which touches the border of life and death of children, and since June 2012 as the chairman of the Council for Mass Media of the polish Episcopal Conference I have been participating in the dispute about the truth, about the freedom of mass media. Archbishop Sławoj Leszek Głódź expressed his opinion on this matter in a strong way, thinking that mass media have been joined with the authority and it means the loss of freedom. This matter is inseparably connected with the religious freedom which is discriminated. Certainly, it must be distinguished here that the matter of freedom of religious cult is different from religious freedom connected also with the character and a way of thinking about oneself and one’s responsibility. We see that religious freedom is discriminated both in the worldly, European dimension and the Polish dimension which is proved by matters of separating Christmas from the Name of Jesus, not to say about other symbols. For, of one rejects Jesus, then everything which composes Christmas, does not make sense. And therefore, discriminating the Television Trwam, treating it as a private broadcaster, turns out to be very dangerous. After all, it is an ecclesiastical, not private broadcaster. It is a transmission of voice and the image of the Church not only in Poland but the universal Church all over the world. We are grateful for this transmission via Television Trwam and Radio Maryja, for broadcasting divine services, for the voices of successors of St. Peter. As Catholics we have a right not only to exist but also to an equal access to free transmitting the Christian truth and the social truth about ourselves. Blocking the place on the digital multiplex, especially with the financial and ideological method is against democracy. It is a clear ignoring desires and will of the Catholic society. We all, as baptized people, being the community of the Church, are responsible for the Church and its mission. A clear sign of unity concerning attempts for the access of the Television Trwam to the multiplex is over 2.5 million submitted signatures and over 140 manifestations on the streets of Polish cities. It is not only an expression of a will and supporting the faith of the Church, but also prolonging the calling of blessed John Paul II: ‘Open the door to Christ’; ‘Let Christ speak to a man’; ‘Do not be afraid’. It is a loud signal that it is time to finish trampling on Christian consciences and setting boundary barriers to transmitting the Gospel and the mission of the Church.
- We hope that the last proposals of the National Broadcasting Council will meet with disapproval and the will of such a great representation of the society will be respected by the authorities and the nation will meet with justice and the country friendly to its citizens.
- I would like to emphasize the role of conscience which is a voice calling for the truth in every man, a voice calling for borders between good and evil. Ethical imperative says directly: ‘Avoid evil and do good’. This voice of conscience cannot be drown or rejected even by a non-believer, who is not connected with the faith of the Church. We have a right to appeal to all people of good will, also to the members of the National Broadcasting Council for the sense of responsibility in conscience, not only towards history but also towards God. This sense of conscience is connected with the world of values built on the Decalogue and the Gospel after all. And later it is only the matter of honor and faithfulness or betrayal. Therefore once again I would like to emphasize the matter of personal responsibility for our choices and for what is being prepared for our future: either the world with Christ – with future, or the world without Christ – sentenced to self-destruction.
- Therefore Catholic media are needed, including Television Trwam. It is also about 40 radio stations, including Radio Maryja. Archbishop as responsible for Catholic media, for these great spaces of transmitting information and opinions which influence the way of thinking and actions of people, can contribute to a great good.
- We hope so, expecting not only a good future, but future based on the truth which is also passed on by Catholic mass media, both newspapers and radio or TV stations, for example Television Trwam. We wish we would be far-sighted and far-thinking people – like John Paul II – who would not be ashamed of their choices and their decisions now and in the future.
God bless you!