GOD’S GIFT FOR THE LATINOS
ZDZISŁAW JAN RYN
It is worth looking at the beginning pontificate of pope Fancis from the perspective of the inhabitants of the Latin America (Iber-America). We rarely realize the fact that it is the continent comprising 20 countries and 9 autonomies, from Mexico in the north to Chile and Argentina in the south. Its area is over 21 million km2 and has over 0.5 milliard inhabitants, speaking mainly in Spanish, Portugese and French. We often forget that among inhabitants of this part of the world, there are many millions of Indians, heirs of various pre-Columbian cultures, using hundreds of ethnical languages, to whom the western civilization has not reached yet. From the European perspective, the Latinos seem to be a homogenous society, while they are a real crucible of races, anthropological types and cultures.
The original inhabitants were pushed away onto the margin of social and economic life, from the time of bloody conquest in XVI century. Natural riches of this continent is mostly consumed by the civilizational world. The process of cultural assimilation and social-religious syncretism is still going on. Today most inhabitants of the Latin America belongs to the Catholic Church which has 432 millions of believers (79 per cent of population). The Catholic Church is the most permanent binder of family and social life.
An important phase of Latin evangelization was the pontificate of John Paul II, who tirelessly visited, taught and strengthened identities of inhabitants of both Americas in the sphere of faith. He visited some countries of the Latin America a few times. He always met with the representatives of ethnical groups.
The role of the Polish pope and the Vatican diplomacy in averting an armed conflict between Chile and Argentina cannot be underestimated nor mediations in the conflict between Argentina and Britain about the Malvinas islands (Falklands).
The more important works of the pontificate of John Paul II are connected with evangelization of the inhabitants of this part of the world and exaltation to the altars of many blessed and saints, including the first Indian – St. Juan Diego (Mexico 2002) or the first Saint woman of Chile – St. Theresa from Los Andes (Chile 1993).
John Paul II drew the eyes of the world to the Latin America and the spiritual richness of its inhabitants. He opposed to the dramatic span between the world of the rich and the poor, supported aims at maintaining the cultural identity and improvement of life quality. Unlike anybody else, he comforted millions of Poles spread all over the world. He used his experiences of struggles with Nazis and communist regimes.
The Polish Pope loved the Latinos like his compatriots, he also loved unimaginable beauty of the nature of this continent.
The Latinos envied us of this Polish Pope a lot. They also envied us of this German Pope who cared about the souls of the Poles so faithfully. They could not imagine that here the time would come sooner than they had expected, when the Latin America will give the Latin pope. By the dispensation of the Providence, a bishop who had arrived in the conclave from the end of the world, became the Pope; a bishop of the poor and suffering, those in the biggest need. John Paul II was appointed for the times of apocalypse of the XX century, with its wars and concentration camps, Benedict XVI was a pope of Polish-German reconciliation and Pope Francis was called in order to uplift the nations of his beloved Latin America.
Exactly a month before the election of the conclave we had finished a pilgrimage of doctors from Cracow to Chile, Argentina and Uruguay. The pastoral ministry was exercised by Fr. Prof. Dariusz Oko from the Papal University of John Paul II in Cracow and Father dr. Tadeusz Rostworowski ( a Jesuit, at present from Australia). Being in the group of 73 pilgrims, we visited the most beautiful sanctuaries in these countries. A special form of the pilgrimage were the so-called cosmic Holy Masses, celebrated outside, on natural altars of the nature. In a salon and a garden of historical House of Ignacy Domeyko in Santiago de Chile, at the feet of the highest peak of the Andes – Aconcagua- in the sanctuary of St. Theresa from Los Andes (Chile), at the front of the most beautiful glacier of America Perito Moreno (Patagonia), in the hurricane wind on the Tierra de Fuego and at the Ravine of Magellan, on the banks of Patagonian fjords, etc. Among permanent intentions of these Holy Masses, there were prayers for exalting Ignacy Domeyko to the altars and the election of the Holy Father from the Latin America. Here is a great power of a prayer. We have had the miracle fulfilled for the inhabitants of America through the prayer.
It is worth reminding that the future Pope gave Poles his blessing in Argentina, during the solemn inauguration of the monument of John Paul II in Buenos Aires (1999). The monument stands in a prestigious place in the capital of Argentina, on a hill at the feet of a building of the National Library. Emotions of the inhabitants of Argentina in relation to the election of cardinal Bergoglio for a pope can be compared only with emotions of Poles after the election of cardinal Karol Wojtyła for the Holy See of St. Peter.
On the day of election, pope Francis, subjected to unimaginable pressure of emotions, spontaneously showed the world virtues needed to the Pastor of the Church: closeness of God, power of a prayer, sensitivity and openness to a neighbor and wisdom in solving matters of the contemporary world.
He was appealing to believers: ‘Let’s begin this common road of the bishop and people, a road of the Church of Rome, who presides in love among all Churches. This is a road of brotherhood, love and mutual trustfulness. Let’s pray for us, one another. Let’ s pray for the whole world’.
Let the crazy joy of faith of inhabitants of America be contagious for the world, also our country, Poland. Let this joy be the source of strength of pope Francis in the victory of the good over the evil. Let’s give pope Francis – Jorge Mario Bergoglio, exalted to the cardinal honor by John Paul II, spiritual support and deeds.
Prof. Assoc. Zdzisław Jan Ryn was an extraordinary ambassador in the years 1991-96 and a plenipotentiary ambassador of the Polish Republic in Chile and Bolivia, and in the years 2007-08 – he was an ambassador of the Polish Republic in Argentina, in the years 1997-2000 – he was a Honorary Consul of Chile in Cracow.