Speeches 1997 - Friday, 30 May 1997
Your Excellency the President of the Republic of Poland,
Your Eminence the Cardinal Metropolitan of Wroclaw!
1. I offer cordial thanks for the words of welcome spoken by His Excellency the President in the name of the State Authorities of the Republic of Poland. I express my gratitude also to the Metropolitan of Wroclaw for greeting me in the name of this Archdiocese and of the whole Church in Poland. With all my heart I reciprocate the sentiments expressed.
And so, once more I am here among you as a pilgrim, dear Brothers and Sisters, sons and daughters of our common homeland. This is the sixth journey of the Polish Pope to his native country. But each time I am invariably filled once more with profound emotion. Every return to Poland is like a return to the family home, where the smallest objects remind us of what is closest and dearest to our hearts. How then can I fail at this moment to thank Divine Providence for having enabled me once more to accept the invitation of the Church in Poland and the State Authorities to come back to my homeland? I accepted this invitation with joy and today I wish once more to express my heartfelt thanks for it.
At this time I embrace in my thoughts and in my heart my whole Country and all my fellow countrymen, with no exception. I greet you all, dear brothers and sisters. I greet the Church in Poland, its Pastors, its priests, its families of men and women Religious and all believers, so deeply attached to the Catholic faith. I offer a special greeting to the young people of Poland, for they are the future of this land. I greet in particular those suffering from illness, loneliness and old age, or from poverty and need. I greet our brothers and sisters from the Orthodox Church of Poland and from the Communities of the Reformation, and also our elder brethren in the faith of Abraham, and those who profess Islam in this land. I greet all people of good will who are sincerely seeking truth and goodness. I do not want to omit anyone, for I bear you all in my heart and I remember you all in my prayers.
2. I greet you, Poland, my homeland! Although I happen to live a long way away, still I do not cease to feel a son of this land, and nothing which concerns it is alien to me. Citizens of Poland, I rejoice with you at your achievements and I share in your concerns! There is certainly reason for optimism - for example - in the process, not an easy one, of "learning how to be a democracy" and the gradual consolidation of the structures of a democratic and constitutional state. To this must be added numerous achievements in the area of the economy and social reform, recognized by prestigious international bodies. But there are also problems and tensions, sometimes quite painful ones, which need to be resolved by a common and fraternal effort on the part of all, with respect for the rights of each human being, especially the most defenceless and weak. I am convinced that Poles are a nation endowed with an enormous potential of talent and spirit, intelligence and will; a nation capable of much, and one which can play an important role in the family of European countries. And precisely this is what I wish with all my heart for my homeland.
I come to you, dear fellow-countrymen, as one who seeks to serve - to render an apostolic service to each and every one. The service of the Successor of Saint Peter is the ministry of faith, in accordance with Christ's words: "I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren" (Lc 22,32). This is the mission of Peter and this is the mission of the Church. With her eyes fixed on the example of her Master, she desires only to serve humanity by proclaiming the Gospel."Man, in the full truth of his existence, of his personal being and also of his community and social being — in the sphere of his own family, in the sphere of society and very diverse contexts, in the sphere of his own nation or people..., and in the sphere of the whole of mankind — this man is the primary route that the Church must travel in fulfilling her mission: he is the primary and fundamental way for the Church, the way traced out by Christ himself, the way that leads invariably through the mystery of the Incarnation and the Redemption" (Redemptor Hominis RH 14).
3. I come to you, dear fellow-countrymen, in the name of Jesus Christ - of him who is "the same yesterday and today and for ever" (He 13,8). This is the motto of my present visit. Along the itinerary of this apostolic pilgrimage I desire, together with you, to profess faith in Him who is "the centre of the universe and of history", and especially the centre of the history of this Nation, baptized over a thousand years ago. We need to renew this profession of faith, together with the whole Church, which is spiritually preparing for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000.
The route of this pilgrimage is a significant one, and its principal stages are determined by three cities: Wroclaw, Gniezno and Krakow. First of all, Wroclaw, the site of the 46th International Eucharistic Congress. "Make a place for him, the Lord is coming from heaven...". I am convinced that this Eucharistic Congress will contribute effectively to enlarging the place in life given to Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, Christ Crucified and Risen, Christ the Redeemer of the world, in the life of this Church in Wroclaw, in the life of the Church in Poland and in the whole world. This means making accessible all the treasures of faith and culture which unite us to the Eucharist. This means creating a spiritual space, a space in human thoughts and in the human heart, a space of faith, hope and love, and a space of conversion, purification and holiness. All this comes to mind when we sing: "Make room for him...".
The second stop is the ancient city of Gniezno. My visit takes place in the year when the Church in Poland is celebrating the millennium of the martyrdom of Saint Adalbert.Our Czech neighbours, together with the Hungarians, Slovaks and Germans, are joining us in celebrating this event. In the context of this pilgrimage I would like to give thanks with you, dear brothers and sisters, for the gift of faith, consolidated in our history by the blood of the martyr Adalbert. This anniversary also has a clear European dimension. We are reminded of this by the historic Meeting of Gniezno in the year 1000, which took place at the relics of the Martyr. The figure of Saint Adalbert has left a profound mark on the spiritual history not only of Poland but also of Europe, and its message continues to be timely even today.
The final stop is Krakow, for the 600th anniversary of the Jagiellonian foundation of the University in Krakow and in particular of its Faculty of Theology, thanks to the efforts of Blessed Queen Hedwig. Here too we are speaking of an event decisive for the spirit of the Polish nation and of Polish culture.
Around these three principal stops the whole programme of this very vast and significant journey has been structured. It comes together and finds its unity in the figure of Jesus Christ, who is "the same yesterday and today and for ever" (He 13,8) — the figure of Christ who so wondrously reveals his power in the lives of the saints and the beati whom the Church has raised to the glory of the altars. This is the message of the canonizations and beatifications of great Polish men and women which I will celebrate in the course of my apostolic visit. We desire to confess together our faith in Christ and we wish to invite him anew into our families and into all the places where we happen to live and work — we want once more to invite him into our common house called Poland.
In conclusion, I thank you once again for welcoming me back so warmly to my homeland. I greet all present; I greet all who have come to take part in the International Eucharistic Congress; and I greet all my fellow-countrymen. From my heart, I bless you all.
Dear Brothers and Sisters!
1. We meet this afternoon to thank Divine Providence together for the gift of the Eucharistic Congress. We thank God for this time of prayer and adoration, and also of theological reflection on the great mystery of our faith which is the Eucharist. For eight days you have been experiencing the special grace of being together. What united everyone was faith in the Real Presence of Christ under the appearances of bread and wine, and also the awareness that he is always among us, "that we may have life, and have it abundantly" (cf. Jn Jn 10,10). During these days the City of Wroclaw has been transformed into a great Cenacle in which all believers have been gathered at a common table around Christ, to listen to his words, to give him praise in song and prayer and to be nourished by his sacred Body. Taking part in the celebrations linked with the Congress were not only this City but the whole Archdiocese of Wroclaw and the Church in Poland. This morning's Holy Mass, concelebrated by the Pope and many Cardinals, Archbishops and Bishops, and by a large number of priests, was a true Statio Orbis, an immense assembly of pilgrims from all over the world, and especially from Europe. It became the visible image of the Church "made one with the unity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit" (Lumen Gentium LG 4). As we thank God for this gift, we express in the words of the Didachč the gratitude of the whole Church:
You have created all things for the glory of your name
and have given to the children of men
food and drink that they might praise you;
but you have given us the grace
of spiritual food and drink
of eternal life
through the work of Jesus your Servant ...
To you be glory for ever and ever"
(Teaching of the Twelve Apostles / Didachč, X.3).
2. I feel a special joy at being able to meet with you today. I greet all the delegates who have come to Wroclaw as representatives of their Ecclesial Communities, Dioceses, countries and nations from around the world. Among you there are Bishops, priests, consecrated persons and laity. I wish to express my particular appreciation to those among you who have contributed to the organization of this Congress. I offer words of special thanks to Cardinal Edouard Gagnon, President of the Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses, as well as to the members of the Committee. With gratitude I also greet Cardinal Henryk Gulbinowicz, Metropolitan of Wroclaw and President of the National Committee, and all those who worked with him. I likewise thank the individual sections, commissions, and all men and women of good will. You have spared neither time nor effort. Your work and generous organizational effort enabled the Congress to be a great event in the Church's life and a profound spiritual experience for many. From the bottom of my heart I also thank for their presence all the sisters and brothers of the other Churches and Ecclesial Communities who, together with us, have prayed for Christian unity. I likewise thank the followers of other religions and spiritual traditions. It is not possible to list them all here, so forgive me if I have omitted anyone.
3. Dear Brothers and Sisters, I have said that the 46th International Eucharistic Congress has been a great ecclesial event. I would say that it has been a great experience of the universal Church united in the Eucharist. The Church lives from the Eucharist and is constantly born from it. The Church expresses herself in a special way through the Eucharist, which is as it were the summit to which everything in the Church is directed. "For the Most Blessed Eucharist," as the Council says, "contains the Church's entire spiritual wealth, that is, Christ himself, our Passover" (Presbyterorum Ordinis PO 5). For this reason the Church, if she really wishes fully to understand herself and her mission, must ceaselessly discover this Eucharistic Presence of Christ, meditate on it, and live from it. Let us foster and deepen in our hearts profound gratitude to God for the graces which he bestows upon his Church.
Dear Brothers and Sisters, we have all been able to experience how in the mystery of the Eucharist people of different races, languages, nations and cultures come together. Yes. The Eucharist transcends every boundary. In it there becomes visible the unity of the Church as the Mystical Body of Christ. How clearly are fulfilled here the words of Saint Augustine who called the Eucharist "the sacrament of devotion, the sign of unity, the bond of charity" (In Ioannis Evangelium Tractatus, 26, 6, 13: PL 35, 1613). The Eucharist is the living heart of the Church. "The Eucharist builds the Church, building it as the authentic community of the People of God, as the assembly of the faithful, bearing the same mark of unity that was shared by the Apostles and the first disciples of the Lord. The Eucharist builds ever anew this community and unity, ever building and regenerating it on the basis of the Sacrifice of Christ, since it commemorates his death on the Cross, the price by which he redeemed us" (Redemptor Hominis RH 20). Precisely in this perspective must we understand every Eucharistic Congress and its role in the life of the whole Church.
4. Allow me to stress yet another very important aspect, and that is the place in which the Congress is taking place. It is in Poland, one of the countries of Central Eastern Europe which, together with other countries of this region, has recently regained freedom and sovereignty after years of oppression by the totalitarian Communist system. Also significant is the slogan of the Congress: "For freedom Christ has set us free" (Ga 5,1). Here, in this part of Europe, the word "freedom" takes on a special meaning. We know the taste of slavery, war and injustice. So do those countries which lived, like us, the tragic experiences of the lack of personal and social freedom. Today we rejoice at freedom regained, but "it is impossible merely to possess and enjoy freedom. It must be continually regained through the truth. Freedom entails the mature responsibility of human consciences, which is the result of this truth. It can be used correctly or badly, in the service of the true good or of a false, fictitious good" (Jasna Góra Cycle, 7 November 1990, No. 2).
Christ present in the Eucharist teaches us what true freedom is and how to use it. Today there is a need for a great return to the Eucharist. Only the Eucharist can reveal to man the fullness of God's infinite love and thus answer his desire for love. Only the Eucharist can set on course his yearnings for freedom, and thus show him the new dimension of human existence. For when we discover that we have been called to make a free gift of ourselves to God and neighbour, our freedom is permeated by the splendour of truth which makes our love radiant.
Let us thank God for these days full of grace. Let us pray that this Eucharistic Congress will intensify in people's hearts love for the Eucharistic Christ. I wrote in my Encyclical Letter Redemptor Hominis: "Every member of the Church, especially Bishops and priests, must be vigilant in seeing that this Sacrament of love shall be at the centre of the life of the People of God, so that through all the manifestations of worship due to it Christ shall be given back ?love for love' and truly become ?the life of our souls'" (No. 20).
May God grant that these days of prayer will bring a true conversion of hearts, contribute to the growth of holiness and renew commitment to the work of unity and peace. I wish to thank you once again for your presence and I ask Christ to bestow abundant graces upon all the distinguished guests here present. To all I impart my Apostolic Blessing, as a sign of my good will and esteem. Be witnesses to Christ's love in your countries, on every continent, to the ends of the earth.
Dear Young Friends!
1. "This is the day which the Lord has given us. Let us rejoice and be glad in it!"
Everywhere on my pilgrimage this year in my homeland I am met with expressions of great warmth and joy. That is how it was at Wroclaw , at Legnica, at Gorzów, at Gniezno, and that is how it is here too, at Poznan.
I thank you with all my heart for this meeting and for coming in such great numbers, even though this is time of exams and final marks. I greet each of you, one by one, and through you I wish to greet all the young people of Poland, and also your parents, teachers, chaplains and professors, and the whole university world. I extend words of cordial greeting to the Archbishop of the Church in Poznan, to his Auxiliary Bishops and to the People of God of this beloved Archdiocese. I greet also Archbishop Jerzy Stroba, who for many long years exercised his pastoral ministry in this Archdiocese. I thank him for all that he has done for the universal Church and especially for the Church in Poland.
"This is the day which the Lord has given us . . ."
2. The passage from Matthew's Gospel which we have just read takes us to the Lake of Gennesaret. The Apostles had got into the boat to go before Jesus to the other side. And it came to pass that as they rowed in the chosen direction they saw Jesus walking on the lake. Christ was walking on the water as though it were solid ground. The Apostles were afraid, thinking it was a ghost. Jesus, hearing their cry, spoke: "Take heart, it is I; have no fear" (Mt 14,27). And then Peter said: "Lord if it is you, bid me come to you on the water". And Jesus answered, "Come!" (Mt 14,28-29). So Peter stepped out of the boat and began to walk on the water. He was just about to come to Christ when there was a strong gust of wind and he became afraid. As he began to sink he called out: "Lord, save me!" (Mt 14,30). The Jesus reached out his hand, caught him and kept him from sinking and said: "O man of little faith, why did you doubt?" (Mt 14,31).
This Gospel event is full of profound meaning. It concerns the most important problem of human life, faith in Jesus Christ. Peter certainly had faith, as he later magnificently showed in the region near Caesarea Philippi, but at that moment his faith was not yet solid. When the wind began to blow more strongly Peter began to sink, because he had doubted. It was not the wind that made Peter sink into the lake but the insufficiency of his faith. Peter's faith had lacked one essential element — complete abandonment to Christ, total trust in him at the moment of great trial; he lacked unreserved hope in him. Faith and hope, together with love, constitute the foundation of the Christian life, the cornerstone of which is Jesus Christ.
In Jesus' death on the Cross and in his Resurrection from the tomb God's love for man and for the world was fully revealed. Jesus is the only way to the Father, the only way that leads to truth and life (cf. Jn Jn 14,6). This message which the Church ever since the beginning has proclaimed to all men and all nations was proclaimed anew to our generation by the Second Vatican Council. Allow me to quote a brief passage from the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et Spes: "The Church believes that Christ, who died and was raised up for all, can through his Spirit offer man the light and the strength to measure up to his supreme destiny. Nor has any other name under heaven been given to man by which it is fitting for him to be saved. She likewise holds that in her most benign Lord and Master can be found the key, the focal point, and the goal of all human history. The Church also maintains that beneath all changes there are many realities which do not change and which have their ultimate foundation in Christ, who is the same yesterday and today, yes and for ever" (No. 10).
Dear young people, follow Christ with the enthusiasm of your youthful hearts. He alone can calm man's fear. Look to Jesus from the depths of your hearts and minds! He is you inseparable friend.
This message about Christ, to which I devoted my first Encyclical Redemptor Hominis, I announce to the young people of every continent during my pastoral visits and on the occasion of the World Youth Days. It is also the theme of the August meeting that the youth will have with the Pope in Paris: I cordially invite you to this meeting. As Christians you are called to bear witness to faith and hope, so that people — as Saint Paul writes — "will not be without hope and without God in this world" but will "learn to know Christ" (cf. Eph Ep 2,12 Ep 4,20).
Faith in Christ and the hope which he teaches enables man to conquer himself, to conquer everything in him that is weak and sinful; and at the same time this faith and hope lead him to victory over evil and the effects of sin in the world around him. Christ freed Peter from the fear which had seized him on the stormy lake. Christ enables us too to overcome the difficult moments in life, if with faith and hope we turn to him and ask his help. "Take heart, it is I; have no fear" (Mt 14,27). Strong faith, from which is born limitless hope, a virtue so needed today, frees man from fear and gives him the spiritual strength to resist all life's storms. Do not be afraid of Christ! Trust him completely! He alone "has words of eternal life". Christ never lets us down!
Here in this place, in Adam Mickiewicz Square, there once stood a monument to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, the visible sign of the victory won by the Polish people thanks to their faith and hope in Christ. The monument was erected in 1932 with contributions from the whole of society as a testimony of gratitude for freedom regained. A Poland reborn gathered round the Heart of Jesus, to draw from this Fount of generous love the strength to build the country's future on the foundation of God's truth, in unity and harmony. After the outbreak of the Second World War that monument became such a dangerous symbol of the Christian and Polish spirit that it was destroyed by the invaders at the beginning of the Occupation.
3. Dear young people! How many times have the faith and hope of the Polish people been put to the test, a very difficult test, in this century which is about to end! We only need recall the First World War and, connected with it, the determination of all those who undertook the decisive struggle to regain independence. We only need recall the period of twenty years between the two wars, when everything had to be rebuilt. Then there came the Second World War and the terrible Occupation following the pact between Hitler's Germany and Soviet Russia, which decided upon the removal of Poland, as a State, from the map of Europe. What a radical challenge that period was for all Poles! Truly, the Second World War generation was in a certain sense immolated on the great altar of the struggle to maintain and ensure the freedom of the homeland. How many human lives it cost, young and promising lives! What a high price the Poles paid, first on the fronts in September 1939 and then on all the fronts where the Allies were fighting against the invaders.
At the end of the War there came a long period, of almost fifty years, of a new danger, this time not warlike but peaceful. The victory of the Red Army brought Poland not only freedom from Hitler's occupation but also a new oppression. If during the Occupation men died at the front, in the concentration camps, in clandestine political and military resistance, the last cry of which was the Warsaw Uprising, the first years of the new regime were a constant series of mistreatment of numberless Poles. The new power-holders did everything to subjugate the Nation, to make it submit to them politically and ideologically.
The following years, beginning with October 1956, were not as bloody; but that battle against the Nation and against the Church lasted until the 1980. It was the consequence of the challenge to the faith and hope of the Poles, who continued to spare no effort to avoid surrendering, to defend those religious and national values exposed to a particular danger.
My dear friends, this had to be said here, in this place. It was necessary to say it once again to you, the young people who will take on responsibility for the future of Poland in the Third Millennium. Awareness of our past helps us to take our place in the long line of generations, so that we can pass on to generations to come the common good, our homeland.
It would be difficult not to mention here still another monument, the Monument to the Victims of June 1956. It was erected in this Square by the people of Poznan and Wielkopolska on the 25th anniversary of the tragic events in which the great popular protest against the inhuman system of the oppression of human hearts and minds was expressed. I wanted to come to this Monument in 1983 when I made my first visit to your city as Pope, but on that occasion I was denied permission to pray beneath the Crosses of Poznan. I am pleased that today, together with you — the young Poland — I am able to kneel before this Monument and pay homage to the workers who gave their lives in defence of truth, justice and the independence of our homeland.
4. We look once more to the Lake of Gennesaret on which Peter's boat is sailing. The lake evokes the image of the world, also the modern world in which we are living and in which the Church is carrying out her mission. This world is a challenge for man, just as the lake was a challenge for Peter. For him it was so close and familiar, as the place of his daily work as a fisherman, and on the other hand it was the element of nature which he had to face with his own strength and experience.
Man has to enter this world, in a certain sense immerse himself in it, for he has received from God the command to "subdue the earth" by work, study, creative effort (cf. Gen Gn 1,28). On the other hand, man cannot shut himself up exclusively within the limits of the material world, neglecting the Creator. For this is against man's nature, against his inner truth, since the human heart, as Saint Augustine says, is restless until it rests in God (cf. Confessions, I,1,1). The human person, created in the image and likeness of God, cannot become a slave to things, to economic systems, to technological civilization, to consumerism, to easy success. Man cannot become the slave of his inclinations and passions, sometimes deliberately aroused. We must defend ourselves against this danger. We need to know how to use our freedom, choosing what is the true good. Do not let people make you slaves! Do not let people tempt you with false values, half-truths, the fascination of illusions, which you will later leave behind with disappointment, hurt and perhaps with your life ruined.
In the address which I once gave to UNESCO, I said that the first and essential task of culture is to educate man. And that education "consists in fact in enabling man to become more man, to 'be' more and not just to 'have' more and consequently, through everything he 'has', everything he 'possesses', to 'be' man more fully. For this purpose man must be able to 'be more' not only 'with others', but also 'for others'" (Address to UNESCO, Paris, 2 June 1980, No.11; in L'Osservatore Romano, English-language edition, 23 June 1980, p. 10).
This truth has a fundamental significance for self-education, self-realization, for developing in oneself the humanity and the divine life given in Baptism and strengthened in the Sacrament of Confirmation. Self-education aims precisely at "being" more human and more Christian, at discovering and developing in oneself the talents received from the Creator and realizing the vocation to holiness.
Sometimes the world can be something threatening, it is true; but someone who lives by faith and hope has in himself the power of the Spirit to face the dangers of this world. Peter walked on the waves of the lake, even though it was against the laws of gravity, because he was looking Jesus in the eye. When he doubted, when he lost personal contact with the Master, he began to sink and was rebuked: "O man of little faith, why did you doubt?" (Mt 14,31).
From the example of Peter we learn how important in the spiritual life is the personal bond with Christ: it has to be constantly renewed and deepened. How? Above all by prayer. My dear friends, pray and learn to pray, read and meditate on the Word of God, strengthen the bond with Christ in the Sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist, study the problems of the interior life and of the apostolate in youth groups, Church movements and organizations, which are numerous in our country.
5. Dear young friends! We are celebrating the Jubilee of the millennium of the martyrdom of Saint Adalbert. Today at Gniezno, at the Solemn Eucharist, I said that Saint Adalbert bore witness to Christ, suffering martyrdom for the faith. This martyrdom of the great Apostle of the Slavs challenges you: today too it calls for the witness of the life of each one of you. It calls for new men and women who will make manifest in the midst of this world the "power and the wisdom" (cf. 1Co 1,22-25) of the Gospel of God in their own lives. This world, which sometimes seems like an untameable element, like a stormy sea, at the same time has a profound thirst for Christ, such a thirst for the Good News. It has such need of love.
Be in this world bearers of Christian faith and hope by living love every day. Be faithful witnesses of the Risen Christ, never turn back before the obstacles that present themselves on the paths of your lives. I am counting on you. On your youthful energy and your dedication to Christ. I have known Polish youth. They have never disappointed me. The world needs you. The Church needs you. The future of Poland depends on you. Build and strengthen on Polish soil the "civilization of love": in personal, social and political life, in the schools, universities, parishes and families that one day you will form. For this purpose spare none of your youthful enthusiasm, energy and sacrifice. "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope" (Rm 15,13).
I entrust to the protection of Mary, the Faithful Virgin, the Mother of Fairest Love, the Queen of Poland, each of you and all the youth of our homeland.
"O Mother of God, O Blessed Virgin, by God have you been glorified!"
Mother of Jasna Góra and Queen, I come to you today on a pilgrimage of faith to thank you for your ceaseless protection of all the Church and of myself, especially during the fifty years of my priesthood and those of my service in the See of Peter. With great trust I come to this holy place — on the hill of Jasna Góra, so dear to my heart, to cry out once more: Mother of God and our Mother, I thank you for being the guiding Star of the building of a better future for the world, for being the Patroness of the attainment of the civilization of love among the members of the human race. Mother, I humbly beseech you, surround with your maternal protection the days and years which still separate us from the Year 2000. I entrust to your intercession the preparation for the Great Jubilee of Christianity. Help all the nations of the world to begin the new millennium in union with Christ, the King of the ages.
Mother of the Church, Blessed Virgin Help of Christians, in the humility of Peter's faith I bring to your feet the whole Church, all the continents, countries and nations which have believed in Jesus Christ and have recognized in him the signpost marking their path through history. I bring here, O Mother, all humanity, including those still searching for the way to Christ. Be their guide and help them to be open to the God who is coming. I bring to you in prayer the peoples of East and West, of North and South, and I entrust to your motherly care all the families of nations. Mother of the Church's faith, just as you persevered in prayer with Jesus' disciples in the Upper Room, so be with us today in the Upper Room of the Church as she travels towards the third millennium of faith, and obtain for us the grace to be open to the gift of God's Spirit.
Temple of the Holy Spirit, today in the Shrine of Jasna Góra I give you thanks for all the good which has come to my own nation in years of profound transformation. During my first pilgrimage to my homeland, I prayed that the Holy Spirit might be poured out upon Poland, imploring: "Let your Spirit descend, and renew the face of the earth, the face of this land" (Homily at Mass in Victory Square, Warsaw, 2 June 1979, No. 4; in L'Osservatore Romano English-language edition, 11 June 1979, p. 5). Later I visited Poland with the Tablets of the Ten Commandments. Here too I brought the youth of the whole world. I have always returned to my homeland for reasons of the heart, bringing a message of faith, hope and love.
The history of our homeland on the Vistula is marked by the witness of faith of Saint Adalbert and of many other Polish Saints and candidates for the honours of the altar; it has also been marked by the hard work of many generations who strengthened Poland in her faithfulness to Christ. For ten centuries we have remained a baptized Nation faithful to you, to your Son, to his Cross and the Gospel, to the Holy Church and her Pastors.
I come to you today, O Mother, to exhort my Brothers and Sisters to persevere with Christ and his Church, to encourage the wise use of regained freedom, in the spirit of what is most beautiful in our Christian tradition.
Queen of Poland, recalling with gratitude your motherly protection, I entrust to you my homeland and the social, economic and political changes taking place in her. May desire for the common good prevail over selfishness and divisions. May all who exercise public service see in you the humble Handmaid of the Lord, may they learn to serve and to recognize the needs of their fellow countrymen, as you did at Cana in Galilee, so that Poland may become a Nation in which love, truth, justice and peace reign. May the name of your Son be glorified in it.
Faithful Daughter of the Eternal Father , Temple of the Love that embraces heaven and earth, I entrust to you the service of the Church in the world, a world which so needs love. Mother of God, Mother of the only-begotten Son who gave us as the principle of life the new commandment of love, help us to become builders of a united world, in which peace triumphs over war, and the civilization of death is replaced by love for life.
Speeches 1997 - Friday, 30 May 1997