YES – FOR PEACE AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF NATIONS! NO – FOR WAR AND KILLING!
BISHOPS OF THE POLISH EPISCOPAL CONFERENCE/ WARSAW
In the word edited on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the outbreak of the Second World War diocesan bishops write: ‘Peace and forgiveness are our duty’. Anxiety of pastors of the Church is raised by the events in Ukraine. So, they address their request to all people of good will to ‘undertake expiatory deeds in the intention of peace: fasting, prayer and alms’.
Reminding about the tragedy of the Second World War which was ‘a terrible experience of twenty-century Europe and the world’, bishops conclude that in the last weeks the cry: ‘Yes – for peace and the development of nations, no-for war and killing’ takes on a new meaning. And it happens so because ‘on the European continent, on the Ukrainian land, with which we are so strongly related emotionally through historical memory, there is an indescribable war. Soldiers are and civilian people are killed, families are suffering, human hearts are full of hatred’.
These events ‘threatening the right of nations to choose their own way – in the opinion of bishops – arouse an unjustified concern also about the future of our Homeland’. So, pastors are also appealing for undertaking ‘effective actions which could be peace means and inhibit the tragedy of the war’.
Bishops emphasize that ‘essential conditions of the existence of peace is respecting human rights, including respect for freedom and the freedom of speech, development, solidarity and a dialogue’. They remind that ‘peace is our duty for which we must be brought up’. They explain that although already a few generations of Poles live without any direct experience of a war, preparing next generations to live in peace should be a constant desire both of families and also those who have an influence on education of children and the youth.
A strong accent of the bishops is reminding the significance of the historical memory of the nation. They repeat after pope Benedict XVI that ‘we must remember about the dramatic events which gave the beginning of one of the most terrible conflicts in the history, which caused tens millions of victims and brought so much suffering to the Polish nation’.
In long fragments of the letter, bishops refer to the dramatic situation of September 1939 when Poland was attacked by two invaders who ‘doing the fourth partition of Republic of Poland’, gave the ‘priority to power against law, moral disorder against the order of Christian principles, imposing godless ideology of the national socialism and atheistic communism’. They remind that in the occupied Republic of Poland, ‘time of programmed genocide started which touched the Jews in a particular way’, but it was also time of ‘extermination of various social groups, in the first place priests and intelligence’. In the opinion of bishops it was also a period of ‘heroic struggles for freedom (…), it was a road of the vanquished but undefeated’’. Bishops also say about the post-war fate of ‘soldiers who were betrayed by the world’, which resulted in ‘death of many heroes of Independent Poland in prisons, sentenced for sacrificial service to Homeland, especially the so-called Soldiers Outcasts’. These sufferings and efforts, however, led to regaining freedom, also thanks to the awakening to which St. John Paul II contributed.
Next, pastors of the Church in Poland are making an appeal again for forgiving harm and reconciliation. Referring to the reconciliation Polish-German process initiated by the Church, they explain that ‘as the community of the Catholic faith, we have often undertaken effort of destroying such walls of hatred and hostility whose example is the Letter of Polish bishops to German bishops ‘We forgive and ask for forgiveness’ -o f November 1965 – being an encouragement for purifying historical memory, for confessing faults and paving the way to reconciliation’.
The pastoral word on the occasion of 75th anniversary of the outbreak of the Second World War was addressed to compatriots in Poland and abroad by diocesan bishops gathered on 25 and 26 August 2014 at Jasna Góra.