Paweł Zuchniewicz talks with the prelate of Opus Dei bishop Javier Echverraria

PAWEŁ ZUCHNIEWICZ: - What are the first reflections of Bishop after the Road of the Cross of the World Youth Days?

BISHOP JAVIER ECHEVARRIA: - The Road of the Cross is always a meeting with Christ’s love. It is a painful meeting but it is also full of hope and purifying. Experiencing the Passion always helps me remember that Christ loves people, loves each of us. When I saw so many boys and so many girls following the cross, I think that the youth is still looking for Christ and is not satisfied with love substitutes.
What is more, here the Road of the Cross particularly reminds me of St. John Paul II, who inspired the World Youth Days and was the archbishop of Cracow before the election for the Holy See. His life – not only its final part, when the face of the Holy Father became the icon of suffering – was a permanent aiming at carrying the cross joyfully every day, with Christ, for salvation of people.

– The World Youth Days were begun by St. John Paul II, continued by Benedict XVI. Now, pope Francis has arrived in Cracow, the city of Mercy. How does Bishop perceive these three popes and their zeal in looking for the young?

– I can see the continuity in effort of talking to the youth, as the Church is always beautiful, always able to reach to both the young and elderly people. But also because none of these three popes: St. John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and at present Francis, wanted nothing except for making Christ present among people. They are his vicars and working in this spirit, they do not want to shine with their own light but want to draw the look of the young to Christ, and He always attracts.

– In months preceding the World Youth Days, there was atmosphere of a danger because of terrorist attacks in Western countries, and also because of the migration crisis. How to overcome fear which appears in people for this reason?

– Immigration and terrorism are different matters. Terrorism cannot be used as an excuse to close the door from somebody, who is forced to leave the place of his origin.
I have no political offers – it is not my mission – in order to solve these problems. But a more human and more Christian solution appears in a dialogue with God (prayer) and in a dialogue with people. Facing this news and appearing fears, we pray because the prayer is the beginning of a road leading to peace.
St. Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer, a founder of Opus Dei, encouraged us to look at the person of Christ on the cross. Jesus has his arms open for everybody: those on the right, those in the middle and those on the left, those from up and those from down. Christ’s cross – he told us – is still one sign of adding, the sign of unity, not division. This is the Christian attitude: bring love of Christ to all parts of the world, and now, particularly, to thousands of refugees who are arriving to our countries. Certainly, it should be done in a responsible way, therefore what are important are a dialogue and working out solutions which are the most proper in a particular case.

– The word ‘mercy’ in the last time is one of the most often used words in the Church. Isn’t it overused?

– God is merciful and if the mission of the Church is speaking about God, one should speak about mercy in a natural way. Certainly, not only is it necessary to speak about mercy, but also live by it towards our neighbor. Mercy can be only a beautiful word. One of the events of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy is canonization of Mother Theresa from Calcutta who is another unusual example of devoting herself to the others. Prayer, especially Eucharistic adoration, was the fundament of her work. ‘I could not work even half an hour without a prayer’ – she said.
By the way I would like to remind that fervent care about those in need was also the everyday activity of St. Josemaria Escriva: he saw the very Christ in the poor and he really wanted the ill or the lonely be able to touch merciful God, which comes to them in their brothers and sisters in faith. Therefore he encouraged believers to come to Christ who is suffering in the ill and the poor and, thanks to God, they show their care in many countries.

– Opus Dei, run by Bishop, works with the youth a lot. What shall one concentrate on, so that the youth time would be fruitful also from the spiritual point of view?

– We must remind the young that Lord relies on them and we should believe it ourselves. I ask boys and girls to devote themselves to others, by loving their parents, their schools, their pure and integral life, their positive revolt which does not undergo blackmails of false freedom. I also rely on their ability of devoting themselves to the noble matter. In his messages for the World Youth Days, St. John Paul II encouraged the young to devote themselves to God, if they feel this vocation, and at present pope Francis is returning to this calling.
I pray so that this extraordinary meeting which we experienced on the land in Cracow, would also be an occasion for many decisions of devoting oneself to life full of joyful and coherent faith. In most cases it will be Christian devotion in secular conditions which may become more specific in marriage or apostolic celibate. I do not deny – which is logical – calling for priesthood or consecrated life. By the way, referring to consecrated life, I want to thank Sister Tobiana and her convent for care about St. John Paul II, full of devotion and joy.

– On these days, we hear from Cracow, a message calling us for generosity, for courage, for a kind of revolt towards injustice. What must happen so that a young man would respond to this calling?

– In the city of St. Sister Faustyna, the message of mercy sounds very strong. I hope that in decisions of a more generous devotion, which the World Youth Days can arouse in the young heart, there will be such engagement which would be a response to the needs of peace and justice of our times. I hope for it particularly, as the World Youth Days take place in Cracow and during the Year of Holy Mercy announced by pope Francis. I am particularly thinking about finding solutions to material and spiritual poverty. It requires starting this ‘imagination of mercy’ about which St. John Paul II spoke.

– The World Youth Days is the presence of not only hundred young people but also a lot of bishops. It is estimated that there are about a thousand of them in Cracow – so this has been the biggest group of the world episcopate in one place since the times of the Second Vatican Council. What is participation in this event for prelate of Opus Dei and bishop?

– During such days like these, one can feel a communion of the whole Church. It brought me a lot of joy that I could see beloved cardinal Stanisław Dziwisz again. Seeing him, I reminisce his sacrificial help and support for Saint Polish Pope. I am glad that we could pray for one another together with him. On such days when the universality of Church is touched, one strongly feels heroism.
I am glad to see the unity of the youth with pastors. I asked the young to pray for us, pastors on these days and all the time; so that we could live for Christ, and keep pace with Him and that we could fulfill our task of serving and loving others.


„Niedziela” 40/2016

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: