LET’S CHOOSE CHRIST FOR EUROPE!
FR. IRENEUSZ SKUBIŚ
If somebody would like to commit a breakage of relationship between the Catholic Church and Poland, it will surely be a bad step which will not contribute either to the greatness of the country, or victory of the good
It is not a discovery for anybody, that ‘Niedziela’, which is a Catholic weekly, is also a patriotic newspaper. We love Poland which is a great heritage of heroic ancestors for us – hence there is a constant fight for the most important issues for the man and the nation: for social justice, for honesty of life, for dignity of every man. We would really like people to have good life and we wish there were not so many people with their failed life.
Faithful to heritage
In order to happen so, we all should be aware of what it means to be a Pole, we all should feel related to important facts which were participation of our compatriots throughout centuries. It is also connected with our homeland culture – language, singing, a way of functioning, tradition, a particular world of values. We have Poland in ourselves, which is Poland of honest modest and reliable people, who are not hypocritical and although Poland is weak and not self-confident, it is somehow our family – family of people open to one another, to their neighbours, people who can sit down and talk together, joke, but also people who can take care of their neighbours, help them.
So, why do we find it so hard to live in Poland? Why do we have difficulties to settle the easiest matters, apart from material poverty? There is so much unfriendliness among us and barriers. Where has this all come from….
Well, Poland has been in a crisis for some time, which led it to its partition. Whereas, invaders started pursuing their policy towards our country, which had colonial character. It was all about not only the annexation of territories but also subordination of people to them, as well as material using those lands and destroying everything which was Polish. And it happened so. Poland disappeared from the map of Europe for 123 years. The time of partitions took its toll. Certainly, not each occupant was equally bad, in some partitions the technical and economic progress was even bigger than earlier, but the nation remained under the foreign pillory. And what is worse – the way of thinking among Poles was changed, who started to ‘understand’ in the Russian way, the Prussian or Austrian way, and there also appeared a way of thinking which was ‘partisan’, and which left catastrophic consequences for life in honesty and truth. There also appeared a kind of wasalizm – in the society living in oppression there will always be people who try to ingratiate themselves towards the authority. It led to a big poverty of the country, violence of identity of its citizens and the loss of willingness to work for the sake of its development.
After years of this national depression, the time of renewal and resurrection arrived. After the year of 1918 Poland started returning to itself – and poets wrote about its resurrection. Polish patriotic thought became more lively, bloody, full of ideas and power. Captivity freed all expectations, with which powerful Poles started to live. Thanks to these wonderful ideas, great and spiritually powerful Poland started appearing in minds. Especially on big areas of today’s Ukraine and Belarus, Poland spoke in a very friendly and lively way. Only the Polish thought, Polish heritage with its culture, language and love to Homeland survived. Poles were enlivened by the Romantic thought, later changing into the Positivistic one, but there has always been Poland in the centre and this all which constituted it. We had great people who could explain the national history and explain the raison d’etat. Among them there were also great engineers, people of technics.
Many people strong with patriotism
One must note that this Polish thought was not a nationalist thought. It was Christian was of thinking, full of solidarity, acknowledging the welfare of various national options. We were also vigilant not to destroy in this social spurt what had always been the most important, compatible with what was once described by a poet: ‘But do not trample on the past of altars/ although you are going to build the better ones/ The holy fire is still glowing on them/ And human love is on the guard there/ And you should worship them!/’ (Adam Asnyk ‘To the young’). This inner convergence and coherence of the Polish thought and feelings were very important and very necessary.
The nation knew that it is not enough to appreciate Poland, or have it in one’s heart or mind, but it is also necessary to fight for it. Hence there were uprisings and national-liberation fights, which fill our history. This year we mentioned the history of the January uprising. Surely, on the basis of struggles with Russia Poles saw the need of their identity and they saw what betrayal is and rejection of homeland ideals. But also in the Russian occupation we had many heroes, who gave their life for Poland. The patriotic thought has always been contagious and developed in each of the partitions in its own way as there were people able to move the most beautiful homeland strings. There were also great statesmen who – when there were possibilities – could meet all demands. It was how Poland was being reborn, also through various associations, organizations, trends, among the others, academic associations of the Catholic youth or later the Movement of Christian Culture ‘Renewal’. It showed a great role of the patriotic thought in the Polish Church – this thought was followed by the clergy and bishops, who wanted Poland to be renewed in the best moral form. Therefore, the history of the Church converged at that time with the history of the nation and the renewed Polish country owes a lot to the Church. Its pastors in their statements in the 20s of the last century, used to build the Polish state thought clearly , reminding about important elements of social and democratic life. When we read the text of the statement of cardinal August Hlond from the 30s of the XX century, we can notice that many dozens years later these words were still current. So, the Catholic thought and political thought were present in formulating principles and legislation at the times of renewing Polish Republic, and formulations of bishops were right and needed. Various groups had their leaders, who presented suggestions for Poland. It was not only Józef Pilsudski, a socialist, but also Wojciech Korfanty, one of the main leaders of the Christian democracy. The Polish way of thinking was present in many books, articles and cared about the real welfare of Poland.
Looking for fundaments of Europe
Undoubtedly on the outskirts of this way of thinking there appeared groups growing in their power, whose purpose was to serve to foreigners. They comprised communists, whose idea was communism in the internationalist form – the Soviet Russia. They expressed their opinions, but the nation lived with what was rooted in our tradition and culture, that is, Catholic faith. A great example of the most beautiful Polish leading thought were statements of primates August Hlond, Stefan Wyszynski or later pope John Paul II. They undertook patriotic thought of the past and passed ideas to it, important for the future and life of the Polish nation. Those statesmen were great teachers of our nation in difficult moments of captivity and thanks to them Poland was saved. And it must be said that communists did everything in order to form their way of thinking, which involved the treacherous spark, omitting the Polish raison d’etat.
Today we live at the time of another stronger search for the Polish raison d’etat. We must be aware that the best patriotism should be connected with Christianity and the Gospel, because only in Christianity it will be enslaved with trivial way of thinking, only then it will be favourable to the development of all nations. So, if somebody would like to commit a breakage of relationship between the Catholic Church and Poland, it will surely be a bad step which will not contribute either to the greatness of the country or victory of the good. Great Poland is possible only with the Church, Europe will be strong only with Christianity which gave it the basis. It was often said by the Holy Father John Paul II and he is the best example of it.
Development assumes freedom
As the nation, we are facing up the next elections – this time these are elections to the European Parliament. The European Union does not present more clarity today in concepts concerning the idea uniting it. Poland found itself in the assumptions of the idea of united Europe and realized as the community of nations. Polish political thought is in freedom and democracy. It is known that every country was developing in certain circumstances and conditions, as well as citizens in particular countries were brought up, which was the priority of every nation. And this – freedom of the development of every nation – should remain property of the European community. For we are still dealing with getting mature by nations – something valuable for each of them, but also for the whole community – their own native thread, distinguishing it among other nations. The basis of the nation is its rooting in the Gospel and Christian philosophy. These are refreshing juices which give us strength and the best motivation for action. Besides that, the EU cannot forget that the basis for united Europe is the evangelical thought and the greatest commandment of love to God and a neighbor. Europe will be big and important continent, if it belongs to Christ. Christianity gives a real and reliable legitimacy for culture of the contemporary world. Not atheism which is the sign of barbarism, destruction and death, but faith in the only God – refreshing, giving power and strength for development.
Responsibility and perspective thinking
Therefore we are looking at events with more care which are taking place on the Old Continent. It is painful for us to look at stifling democracy in Ukraine and willingness of committing some partitions of this country looking for its new way. Russia is doing a lot of harm to nations on which it wants to impose its reign, which are far from democratic rules. How current the message is here which was heard by the Portugese children in 1917 when Our Lady in Her apparitions in Fatima reminded them about the need of conversion of Russia, which may be a danger for the world’s peace. We noticed these elements in the actions of Bolshevik Russia, but also today’s Russia questions the world balance and real and democratic thinking.
We would like the victory of free thought in Europe, which respects the man and all laws included in the Catholic social teaching. The essence of the Polish political thought, also the modern one, is converged with the teaching of the Church. So, Poland is needed to Europe, which is so endangered by materialism, hedonism and new paganism, which makes the Europeans become vain people who are looking for comfort and avoid responsibility. Therefore, in political and social life responsibility and perspective thinking should dominate - they should be strength of the appearing new European culture. The current culture – ‘computerized’ will never replace spiritual values. The most modern computer will not give, for example, any feelings. Not only thanks to the reason, but also thanks to the great human heart and love glowing in it a new man is born. Not saying how the man needs Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of the world and His merciful Heart. So, Christ should be invited to building the European life.
We also notice some German, French or Anglo-Saxon dominations and trends in Europe. Rich countries use their power and enforce matters which are beneficial for them. There is no love, nor honesty, nor justice in it. Hegemony of some countries is dangerous for the whole idea of united Europe.
The Gospel as a signpost
So, elections for the European Parliament should be marked with the message of the Gospel. And the Catholic Church in Europe should have a definite voice in issues connected with the uniting of Europe. This uniting should be connected with great mission for the sake of accepting the Gospel and Jesus Christ. Because the man in Europe is a Christian man in Europe. An atheist in Europe is not a determinant of anything – he is a being who can only take care of material welfare, the speed of a train or modernity of electronic devices. Only a man basing on the laws of the Gospel, on the Decalogue, on the commandment of love to God and a neighbor can be a determinant for the development of Europe and its ambassador towards the whole world.
Unfortunately in Poland and in the Polish parliament there are people building their political image on atheism and hatred towards the Church. What activity, apart from sowing anxiety and hatred, accompanies, for example, the political party ‘Your Movement’? We can only mourn over it and trust that sooner or later we will understand that the way which people are walking and are persuading young people to it, leads astray. And we can show examples of so many catholic groups in which there is real love to a neighbor, friendly and beautiful cooperation not only in the sphere of charity activity, but also on the cultural segment; the example can be here such groups as the ones with the Holy Father John Paul II – also the last ones in Rome - where people devote their time, money, decide for a big physical effort in order to manifest their desire of the good and beauty. We should also remember that at the times when a country does not cope with social help, problems of unemployment and poverty of many families, the Church is coming with help in situations often demanding immediate reaction and support. If it was not for help of Catholic parishes, organizations and priests - the difficulties experienced by poor suffering people would be impossible to cope with and there would be conflicts.
Therefore today we should promote the election of the best people for the European Parliament – who are believers of the Gospel. Such people should build united although federalized Europe.