BY GOD’S INSPIRATION
FR. JAROSŁAW GRABOWSKI
Fr. Jarosław Grabowski – the editor-in-chief of ‘Niedziela’ talks with bishop Wiesław Mering – the bishop of the diocese of Włocławek about the sense of the action ‘Poland at the Cross’ and about whether the activity of laymen changes the contemporary Church
FR. JAROSŁAW GRABOWSKI: - What significance has the initiative ‘Poland at the Cross’ for Bishop?
BISHOP WIESŁAW MERING: - First, I will say that I am very happy that such a prayer action is organized as the meeting in a big group has a great significance for a Christian. We are to deepen our relationship with God and be religious in closed rooms but we must also externalize our faith to others, express it to other people. The man must speak, must testify about what he loves. Sometimes we look at people in love, seeing this noble beautiful love between them. This testifying is needed in the case of faith. For, it is born in the community which is called Church. This Church must gather together in order to praise Lord. Therefore I think that the action ‘Poland at the Cross’ is by God’s inspiration, that Christian laymen really need expressing faith in the community and opting for the Gospel, Church.
Second – I see a great occasion in it to ‘re-plough’ the old diocese of Włocławek which has the same problems and troubles as the Church in Poland and all over the world. Catholic identity is getting weaker and weaker, particularly moral theology is becoming unclear. There are also various bad tendencies in the Church. Therefore we need a clear definite expressing our attitude in defence of the Church and faith. I expect that this event which may gather a few dozen thousand people will become an occasion for this reflection.
Please, have a look at what the attacks on the Church look like. They are hardly caused by one man, all kinds of malice are expressed as if on behalf of a particular group. Well, defence of the Church must also be done in the whole environment. Therefore in this action I see a great chance and I am not doubtful about supporting this initiative, as two earlier ones (‘Great Penance’ and ‘Rosary till the borders’) tell us to trust also this one.
– Let’s return to the term ‘externalizing faith’ in the context of laymen. How do Bishop evaluate these bottom-up evangelization initiatives?
– I am quite strict about evaluation, especially our environment. We, wearing cassocks, who are sent by Lord to proclaim the Gospel, are not often courageous, or unable to find suitable methods which we should use to proclaim the Gospel. We allowed for encoding the so-called political correctness in our minds, as well as fear of being attacked by somebody. There is no reason to think that today is different than the times when Jesus was teaching. He used to say: ‘If I was persecuted, you are also going to be persecuted’ (J 15.20). If these are persecutions because of being faithful to Christ, this is our vocation.
Today we can see lots of indifference among priests. Their task is not making correct completely friendly relations with various groups, but proclaiming Christ everywhere. And because we are afraid of aggression or even rudeness, we resign from clear, calm, sensible proclaiming the Gospel. Therefore, those laymen who are wondering what to do to present this Gospel in an attractive way, in order to be noticed in the world, deserve respect, understanding and help. I appreciate them a lot.
– Bishop has just preceded my next question. What was the reason for inviting the Foundation ‘Solo Dios Basta’ to Włocławek?
– What was happening with the action ‘Poland at the Cross’ is, in my opinion, an intervention of very God, as in the beginning organizers were planning this action somewhere else. It turned out that it was impossible to take in such a high number of people. When the organizers of the action came to me sad as they did not know what would happen next, suddenly they suggested me: ‘Well, there is Kruszyn….’. This is a completely unusual place as John Paul II once visited it. The cross which was celebrating the pope’s celebration, is in the place where beatified Fr. Jerzy Popiełuszko was killed. This is a great symbol of how a Christian should react to hatred, to attacks. Beside that it seems to me that the diocese of Włocławek somehow deserves it , as it gave the world two great saints, maybe the greatest saints of the 20th century: Sister Faustine whose family house has been on our area till today and Father Maximilian, who was born in Zduńska Wola. If one adds martyrdom of the biggest group to it – proportionally to the number of the killed in concentration camps – priests, these are some signs. St. John Paul II said about it with great respect when he was speaking at the airport in Kruszyna. Therefore I do not perceive these events as a coincidence, as for a Christian there are no coincidences. We must notice and use them as the signs of the Providence.