Pain and remembrance of Katyn
At Jasna Gora there was a meeting of people for whom the words ‘Katyn’, ‘Miednoje’, ‘Ostashkov’, ‘Kozielsk’ are not only names from books on history, which average Pole having secondary education should know but some painful reality, which demands the truth despite of the lapse of time. Katyn has been again publicised because of the approaching 70th anniversary of the massacre, the problems with the invitation of the Polish President and the so-called Belarussian Katyn List. At Jasna Gora the members of the Foundation ‘Golgotha of the East’, the Institute of National Remembrance and the Katyn Families in Czestochowa commented on the current events and appealed for reflection and remembrance of the murdered Poles in the East, and above all on the figure of the legendary advocate of the truth about Katyn Rev. Msgr. Zdzislaw Peszkowski. This candidate for the Peace Nobel Prize who passed away to the Lord in 2007, a man of honour and great culture, a figure of great heart, gentility and goodness – he became a hero of the Third International Conference ‘The Truth, Remembrance, Identity of Katyn and the Golgotha of the East.’
The meeting of the conference participants, mainly – but not only – members of the Katyn Families and those murdered in the former USSR territories, began with prayers in the Chapel of the Miraculous Picture. The Holy Mass was presided over by Archbishop Stanislaw Nowak, devoting a considerable part of his homily to the issues of that crime and forgiveness as well as seeking the truth that should consequently lead to create a climate of love and not of revenge.
The conference itself was held in the John Paul II Aula at Jasna Gora. The organisers managed to invite a truly noble group of speakers. And the guests included General of the Pauline Order Fr Izydor Matuszewski, Prior of Jasna Gora Fr Roman Majewski, the chaplain of the Katyn Families in Czestochowa Fr Franciszek Dylus, former Parliament Speaker Marek Jurek and many others. There were also many young people, which makes us rejoice and allow us to believe that the work for which Fr Peszkowski struggled for will not be forgotten.
If someone came to the John Paul Aula at Jasna Gora not knowing the figure of the Katyn Families he must have admired that figure about whose extraordinary life and mission so many people spoke. Admiration because there are fewer and fewer such people around us. He was born into a noble family; he was an uhlan, a scout, an officer of General Anders’s Army who cared for 16,000 Polish orphans in India, a chaplain and supporter of the Polish immigrants in America, a tireless advocate of the truth about Katyn. He dedicated his life to pay the debt for his rescue from the Katyn massacre but this was not a burden for him but a debt giving sense of his existence. His life was divided into episodes, epochs, which were discussed by laity and clergy, including Fr Jacek Salij, Marek Jurek, prosecutor Malgorzata Kuzniar-Plota from the Commission for the Prosecution of Crimes Against the Polish Nation of the Institute of National Remembrance, the historian of the Institute of National Remembrance Mr Witold Wasilewski and the general consul in Moscow in the years 1990-96 Mr Michal Zorawski. The life of the brave priest was shown in many pictures and films, which let us see many aspects of the personality of Fr Peszkowski – his dedication to God, man, history, his desire of the truth. Undoubtedly, the conference was also valuable because apart from reminding the figure of this extraordinary priest it posed the question about the continuation of his mission. And it seems that the mission was put into good hands. It seems that the Katyn affair will not be forgotten.