Speeches 1997 - Zakopane
3. Once more I embrace with all my heart the children present and all the children of our country, especially those who bear the burden of suffering or neglect.
I pay homage to all parents who accept the daily task of taking care of their children and educating them. I thank the pastors and faithful of the whole parish for their generosity, hospitality and for the gift of their prayers. I cordially bless them all.
1. "Queen of the Rosary, pray for us!"
On this first Saturday of the month, the memorial of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we come here to the Shrine of Our Lady of Ludzmierz, Patroness of Podhale. And this is a place more worthy than ever to become today the church in which the faithful from all over the world gather with the Pope to say the Rosary. For almost six hundred years now successive generations of people from Podhale and from all over Poland have honoured here the Mother of God. And this veneration of Mary is indissolubly linked to the Rosary. The local people, distinguished for their simple and deep faith, have always had a sense of what a marvellous source of spiritual life the Rosary can be. For centuries, pilgrims with beads in hand would come from various walks of life — whole families and parishes — to learn from Mary love of Christ.
They chose in this way the best school, for in meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary we see through her eyes the mysteries of the Lord's life , his Passion, Death and Resurrection; we re-live them as she lived them in her Mother's heart. When we say the Rosary we speak to Mary, we confidently entrust to her all our concerns and sorrows, our joys and hopes. We ask her to help us to accept God's plans and to obtain from her Son the necessary grace to carry them out faithfully. She — joyous, sorrowful and glorious, always at her Son's side — is at the same time present in the midst of our everyday problems.
2. The rhythm of the Rosary measures time in this land of Podhale, of Krakow and of Poland, it pervades it and forms it. In whatever way human events developed — in joy for the fruits of daily work, in the painful battle with adversity or in the glory of victories won — they always found a reflection in the mysteries of Christ and his Mother. For this reason affection for the Rosary has never disappeared from the hearts of the faithful, and today it seems to be growing stronger still. This is clearly shown by the development of the "Fraternity of the Living Rosary", founded exactly a hundred years ago in this place, at the Shrine of Our Lady of Ludzmierz. The testimony of those who in this simple prayer find an endless source of spiritual life attracts others. With joy I am told that this Fraternity has also moved beyond the borders of Poland and has even reached other continents. In many centres with Polish immigrants new Living Rosary groups are springing up. It is a wonderful work. I ask God to sustain it, that it may bear holy fruits in the hearts of all Poles, at home and abroad!
3. Today I wish to thank whole-heartedly the faithful of Podhale and the whole Archdiocese of Krakow for the great gift of the Rosary. I know that everyday you gather here at the feet of Mary, Our Lady of Ludzmierz, and in many other places, to commend to her protection the problems of the Successor of Peter and of the Church which Providence has placed in his care. I also know that in the parishes of Podhale, Orawa, Spisz, Pienini and Gorce you have likewise prayed for this visit of mine to Poland, gathering in families and joining in non-stop prayer in "Pilgrim Rosary" groups. I thank you for this marvellous work of prayer. I have always been able to count on it, especially in difficult moments. I need it so much and I continue to ask for it.
I cordially greet the whole parish community of Ludzmierz, its pastors and faithful. We can say that it has spread throughout the world. For wherever Polish mountain folk have gone and continue to go there is present also the Patroness of Ludzmierz — she is present in their homes and churches, but above all in their hearts. May her presence never be lacking!
I also wish to offer a special greeting to the Association of Large Families, present here to seek Mary's intercession for the happiness of their families, which is often not easily attained. In today's world you are witnesses to the happiness that comes from sharing love, even at the cost of many sacrifices. Do not be afraid to bear this witness! The world may not understand you, the world may ask you why you have not taken an easier path, but the world needs your witness — the world needs your love, your peace and your happiness. May you be sustained by Mary, the Protector of families. Turn to her as often as you can. Say the Rosary. May this prayer become the foundation of your unity.
There are present here priests and lay people who for many years have been conducting in this region the pastoral ministry promoting temperance. I commend to Mary, Our Lady of Ludzmierz, this work of yours. I pray that she will obtain for you a strong and persevering spirit, and also a spirit of great sensitivity and discretion towards every individual.
I look with admiration at this Shrine which has been much enlarged and has become more beautiful. This is a sign of your dedication and generosity. It is your gift to Mary, but also to the pilgrims who come here. It is right that the Pope — a pilgrim to Ludzmierz — should today thank you in the name of everyone for your hospitality. May God reward you! I cordially bless you all!
Our Lady of Ludzmierz, Patroness of Podhale, pray for us!
Krakow — 7 June 1997
1. "Misericordias Domini in aeternum cantabo (Ps 89,1)
Here I have come to this shrine as a pilgrim to take part in the unending hymn in honour of Divine Mercy. The Psalmist of the Lord had intoned it, expressing what every generation preserved and will continue to preserve as a most precious fruit of faith. There is nothing that man needs more than Divine Mercy — that love which is benevolent, which is compassionate, which raises man above his weakness to the infinite heights of the holiness of God. In this place we become particularly aware of this. From here, in fact, went out the Message of Divine Mercy that Christ himself chose to pass on to our generation through Blessed Faustina. And it is a message that is clear and understandable for everyone. Anyone can come here, look at this picture of the Merciful Jesus, his Heart radiating grace, and hear in the depths of his own soul what Blessed Faustina heard: "Fear nothing. I am with you always" (Diary, q. II). And if this person responds with a sincere heart: "Jesus, I trust in you!", he will find comfort in all his anxieties and fears. In this dialogue of abandonment, there is established between man and Christ a special bond that sets love free. And "there is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear" (1Jn 4,18).
The Church re-reads the Message of Mercy in order to bring with greater effectiveness to this generation at the end of the Millennium and to future generations the light of hope. Unceasingly the Church implores from God mercy for everyone. "At no time and in no historical period — especially at a moment as critical as our own — can the Church forget the prayer that is a cry for the mercy of God amid the many forms of evil which weigh upon humanity and threaten it . . . The more the human conscience succumbs to secularization, loses its sense of the very meaning of the word 'mercy', moves away from God and distances itself from the mystery of mercy, the more the Church has the right and the duty to appeal to the God of mercy 'with loud cries'" (Dives in Misericordia DM 15). Precisely for this reason this shrine too has found a place on my pilgrim itinerary. I come here to commend the concerns of the Church and of humanity to the merciful Christ. On the threshold of the Third Millennium I come to entrust to him once more my Petrine ministry — "Jesus, I trust in you"!
The Message of Divine Mercy has always been near and dear to me. It is as if history had inscribed it in the tragic experience of the Second World War. In those difficult years it was a particular support and an inexhaustible source of hope, not only for the people of Krakow but for the entire nation. This was also my personal experience, which I took with me to the See of Peter and which in a sense forms the image of this Pontificate. I give thanks to Divine Providence that I have been enabled to contribute personally to the fulfilment of Christ's will, through the institution of the Feast of Divine Mercy. Here, near the relics of Blessed Faustina Kowalska, I give thanks also for the gift of her beatification. I pray unceasingly that God will have "mercy on us and the whole world" (Chaplet).
2. "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy" (Mt 5,7).
Dear Sisters! An extraordinary vocation is yours. Choosing from among you Blessed Faustina, Christ has made your Congregation the guardian of this place, and at the same time he has called you to a particular apostolate, that of his Mercy. I ask you: accept this responsibility! The people of today need your proclamation of mercy: they need your works of mercy and they need your prayer to obtain mercy. Do not neglect any of these dimensions of the apostolate. Fulfil it in union with the Archbishop of Krakow, to whose heart is so dear the devotion to the Divine Mercy, and in union with the whole ecclesial community over which he presides. May this shared work bear much fruit! May the Divine Mercy transform people's hearts! May this Shrine, known already in many parts of the world, become a centre of worship of the Divine Mercy which shines on the whole Church!
Once more I ask you to pray for the intentions of the Church and to support me in my ministry as Successor of Peter. I know that such prayer is always offered here: I thank you for this with all my heart. We all need it so much: Tertio millennio adveniente.
I cordially bless all who are present here and all those devoted to the Divine Mercy.
Dear Brothers in the Episcopal ministry!
1. I am pleased to avail myself of the opportunity offered by the great religious events taking place in Poland and involving the universal Church, to extend my fraternal greeting and convey a special word to you. In this way I wish to express my love for Christ's Church in our homeland, which the whole Polish Episcopal Conference, and each Bishop, cares for in a spirit of collegial responsibility.
My pilgrimage began in Wroclaw with my participation in the 46th International Eucharistic Congress. The meeting with Christ in his Mystery of infinite love and of unity, entrusted to the Church and to humanity in the Eucharistic Sacrifice, speaks to us with profound eloquence: it does so to Catholics as well as to all our Christian brothers and sisters, especially those present at the Congress. The whole Church in Poland had the opportunity to study and contemplate the mystery of the Eucharistic presence of Emmanuel - God with us (cf. Mt Mt 1,23). For all of us it was a special experience of the truth about Christ who "is the same yesterday and today and for ever" (He 13,8). We can all draw from this life-giving source the strength and hope to continue to build on Polish soil a community of faith, a community of all who believe in Christ.
Since this community is a unity in charity, it is always the fruit of sacrifice, of renouncing something for the sake of others, and the fruit of concern for the common good. We have the duty to recognize this good in the unity of the universal Church, in the unity of each particular Church, as indeed in all the forms of collegial activity, among which, following the Second Vatican Council, the Episcopal Conferences have a particular role. It is also the Church's task to lay the moral foundations on which the various communities which people form can grow and bear fruit, beginning with marriage and the family, and embracing the national and State community, as well as the various forms of international coexistence and cooperation. Just as, by God's design, harmony and order are maintained in a family by observing the norms arising from natural ties of kinship and from divine law, so too in the Church community harmony depends on responding to the gift of faith, hope and love, and on hierarchical subordination practiced according to the principle of subsidiarity, cum Petro et sub Petro, in every office received, especially the Episcopal office, and in every role or ministry exercised. The minimum requirement of this subordination is defined by ecclesiastical legislation, but must be constantly completed by the imperative of the heart which springs from love of the truth present in the Church.
The divine Truth, whose authentic revelation we find in Sacred Scripture and Tradition, is also expressed through the voice of the Church's Magisterium, especially in the teaching of the Second Vatican Council. To follow this teaching correctly it is necessary to draw on the knowledge of experts in the various ecclesiastical and secular disciplines, deepening our knowledge of it, especially at the level of the Episcopal Conference, in order to transmit it then to the priests and faithful in a complete and understandable form so that everyone can find in it the answer to the personal and social problems of everyday life.
The unity of the Church demands that the Bishops' concern should extend to all those who transmit the Gospel gift of truth both in Catholic schools and universities, and through the Catholic media. The Episcopal Conference, while respecting the authority of the diocesan Bishops, is responsible for everything connected with the transmission of the faith in its territory, regardless of whether those transmitting it belong to the diocesan clergy, religious communities or the lay faithful. The Church must be present in the communications media. Through them she engages in dialogue with the world, and with their help she can form people's consciences. We must reach out to the world with the best the Church has to offer, with respect for the dignity of the human person and making all aware of their responsibilities before God.
2. The second stage of my pilgrimage was ancient Gniezno - cradle of Poland and of the Church in Poland. A thousand years after Saint Adalbert's death by martyrdom, I had the opportunity to venerate the holy relics of Poland's patron. Adalbert, in obedience to Christ's command: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Mt 28,19), fortified by the power of the Gospel, went to the land of the Prussians. His witness was not welcomed, but when he confirmed it by his death, that witness began to yield its harvest and has continued to do so in abundance down to our day. Is not this the model for Pastors in our country too, where we see a disturbing disintegration of Gospel values and even hostility towards Christ and his Church? Polish society needs a profound, new evangelization. No one should be considered lost, because Christ died for all, opening the way to eternal life for every individual. Renewed faith is needed in the power of Christ's Cross.
We are faced with the great challenges that mark our times. I pointed this out in my address to the Polish Episcopal Conference during my 1991 pilgrimage. At the time I said: "Man is the way of the Church.... In a certain sense the Episcopate and the Church in Poland must translate this task into a language of concrete tasks, using the Council's vision of the Church as the People of God and our analogy of the 'signs of the times'. Our Polish 'signs of the times' clearly underwent a change, with the collapse of the Marxist totalitarian system which had conditioned the consciousness and attitudes of our country's people. In the previous system ... the Church created as it were a space where the individual and the nation could defend their rights.... Now ... man must find a space in the Church in order to defend himself, in a certain sense, from himself: from the misuse of his freedom, from the squandering of a great historic opportunity for the nation. While the former situation led to widespread recognition of the Church's action (even on the part of 'lay' people and circles), in the current situation there are many cases in which we cannot count on such recognition. We have to deal with criticism, and perhaps something even worse. So discernment must be exercised: on the one hand, accepting whatever is correct in this criticism; on the other, not forgetting that Christ will always be a 'sign of contradiction' (cf. Lk Lc 2,34). For the Church this 'contradiction' is also a confirmation of her identity, the confirmation of being in the truth. It may also be a coefficient of the Gospel mission and of pastoral service" (Warsaw, 9 June 1991).
Among the concrete problems and tasks to be addressed, I would like to stress the need for lay people to assume the responsibility which is theirs in the Church. This involves those areas of life in which the laity should, in their own name but as faithful members of the Church, advance political thought, economic life and culture, in harmony with the principles of the Gospel. They certainly must be helped in this task, but no one should take their place. The Church must be free to proclaim the Gospel and all the truths and guidelines it contains. She desires this freedom, she strives for this freedom and it is enough for her. She does not seek or desire special privileges.
When I spoke to the Polish Bishops during their 1993 "ad Limina" visit, I called their attention to the possibility of using the Plenary Synod in order to revitalize the laity's participation in Church life. It appears that this opportunity still exists, and everything should be done to make the most of it. Catholic organizations, including Catholic Action, add a new dimension to the Church's activity. In Poland there have been no opportunities of this sort since the '40s. To tell the truth, it is not easy to awaken society to functioning as a community, but this is the right direction for pastoral work in Poland and it should not be easily given up.
Young people are a very serious concern of the Church, for the future depends on them. The Church in Poland has had marvellous experiences in the field of parish catechesis. Today religion is taught in the schools. This has created new challenges, which stem, among other things, from the changes that have occurred in Polish society in recent years. We must bring to the children and young people of our time the same Gospel, but proclaimed in a new way and adapted to today's mentality and to the conditions in which we live. This demands serious effort, not only to create new tools for communicating with children and young people, but also to find suitable ways of reaching out to them.
3. The third stage of my visit was Kraków and the 600th anniversary of the foundation in Poland of the first scholarly and educational centre of theological thought, namely, the Theology Faculty of the Kraków Academy, which later became the Jagiellonian University. It was established thanks to Queen Hedwig of Anjou, whom I solemnly canonized in Kraków's Blonie Park and who was thus enrolled among the Saints of the universal Church. I thank Almighty God for this great grace. It is a happy coincidence that during this Apostolic Visit to Poland we can see, centuries later, the results of the far-sighted efforts of Saint Adalbert, Bishop and Martyr, and of Queen Saint Hedwig , both of whom wished, in their own way, to strengthen the Christian faith in our homeland. What Saint Adalbert proclaimed and sowed with his death by martyrdom, Queen Saint Hedwig determined to extend and bequeath to many generations by making the wealth of Christian Europe's learning and science widely accessible in Poland. Six hundred years later we know it was a providential step. Just as Saint Adalbert can be considered the patron of the ecclesiastical organization of Poland, so we can rightly call Saint Hedwig the patroness of Poland's access to European Christian thought.
How eloquent for us today are both these examples when, after years of isolation, we are returning to the world of Western culture, a culture quite familiar to us, because for centuries we made our own rich contribution to it. Today we cannot refrain from following the path we have been shown. The Church in Poland can offer Europe, as it grows in unity, her attachment to the faith, her tradition inspired by religious devotion, the pastoral efforts of her Bishops and priests, and certainly many other values on the basis of which Europe can become a reality endowed not only with high economic standards but also with a profound spiritual life.
Dear Brothers in the Episcopate, I have touched on only a few problems. I submit them today for your pastoral reflection and especially for your fervent prayers. We will certainly have to return to them again at our meeting in Rome at the beginning of next year, to which I cordially invite you today. I cordially thank you all for your prayers throughout my visit. I commend you, the Church entrusted to you and our whole nation to the intercession of the saints and beati raised to the altars during my pilgrimage. I bless you from my heart.
8 June 1997
1. Nil est in homine bona mente melius. Today, as we solemnly celebrate the six-hundredth anniversary of the foundation of the Theology Faculty and of the foundation of the Jagiellonian University of Krakow, this inscription above the door of the Dlugosz house in Kanoniczna Street in Krakow seems to find a particular confirmation. Six centuries of history come before us today, with all the generations of professors and students of the University of Krakow, in order to testify to the fruits borne for the good of mankind, the nation and the Church by that persevering concern for the "mens bona" which has been kept alive within this Athenaeum. How can we fail to listen to this centuries-old voice? How can we not accept with heartfelt gratitude the witness of those who, in searching for truth, shaped the history of this royal city and enriched the treasury of Polish and European history? How can we fail to praise God for this work of human wisdom which, inspired by his own eternal Wisdom, leads the mind towards the attainment of ever deeper knowledge?
I give thanks to God for the six hundred years of the Theology Faculty and of the Jagiellonian University. I rejoice that it has been granted me to do so here, in the University Collegiate Church of Saint Ann, in the presence of scholars from throughout Poland. I cordially greet the Academic Senates of the Jagiellonian University and of the Pontifical Academy of Theology led by their respective Rectors. I express my gratitude for the words of welcome and the introduction to this solemn academic exercise. I cordially greet all of you, the distinguished Rectors and Pro-Rectors who represent the academic institutions of Poland. I still have vivid memories of my meeting with you in the Vatican at the beginning of last year (4 January 1996). At that time I spoke about what unites us. We are meeting, in fact, in the name of a common love of truth, and we share a concern for the continuing advancement of learning in our homeland. I am pleased that today we can experience this unity once again. Today's solemn ceremony brings this out in a particular way and reveals its most profound meaning. For behold - we can say - thanks to your presence, all the academic institutions of Poland - both those of centuries-long tradition and those which are more recent - are united around this most ancient "Alma Mater Jagellonica". They come to her in order to express the fact that they too are rooted in the history of Polish learning, which began with that foundation six hundred years ago.
Let us return together to the sources from which, six centuries ago, were born the Jagiellonian University and its Theology Faculty. Together we wish to appropriate once more the great spiritual patrimony which this University constitutes in the history of our nation and of Europe, in order to transmit this priceless treasure intact to future generations of Poles, to the Third Millennium.
2. During this Jubilee celebration we gratefully turn our thoughts to the figure of Saint Hedwig, Lady of Wawel, foundress of the Jagiellonian University and the Theology Faculty. Thanks to a wondrous decree of Divine Providence, the celebration of the six hundredth anniversary coincides today with her canonization, so long awaited in Poland, especially in Krakow and its academic circles. This canonization was greatly desired by everyone. The Academic Senates of the Jagiellonian University and of the Pontifical Academy of Theology have expressed this in letters addressed to me.
The holy foundress of the University, Hedwig, knew, with the knowledge proper to the saints, that the University, as a community of people in search of truth, is essential to the life of the nation and of the Church. Therefore she worked perseveringly for the rebirth of the Academy of Krakow founded by Casimir and for its enrichment by a Faculty of Theology. This was an extremely important act because, according to the criteria of the times, only the foundation of the Theology Faculty gave a university its full rights and a certain ennoblement within the academic world. Hedwig sought this untiringly from Pope Boniface IX, who in 1397, exactly six hundred years ago, acceded to her requests and erected the Theology Faculty in the Jagiellonian University with the solemn Bull Eximiae Devotionis Affectus. Only then did the University of Krakow begin fully to exist on the map of the European universities, and the Jagiellonian State rose to the level of the western countries. The University of Krakow grew quickly. In the course of the fifteenth century it attained the stature of the greatest and most renowned universities in Europe at the time. It was put next to the Sorbonne in Paris, or others older than itself, such as the Italian universities of Bologna and Padua, to say nothing of the nearby universities of Krakow, Prague, Vienna and Pecs in Hungary. This golden age in the history of the University bore fruit in many eminent professors and students. I will limit myself to mentioning but two of them: Pawel Wlodkowic and Nicholas Copernicus.
Hedwig's efforts bore fruit in another area too. For the fifteenth century is, in the history of Krakow, the century of saints, and they too were closely linked to the Jagiellonian University. In those days Saint John of Kety studied and later taught here; his mortal remains rest in this same University Collegiate Church of Saint Ann. And besides him, various others who have the reputation of sanctity received their education here, like Blessed Stanislaus Kazimierczyk, Simon of Lipnica, Ladislas of Gielniów, or Michael Giedroyc, Isaac Boner, Michael of Krakow and Matthew of Krakow. These are only a few of the multitude of those who, travelling the path of the search for truth, achieved the heights of holiness and form the spiritual beauty of this University. I think that, during the Jubilee celebration, this dimension too must be given its rightful place.
3. Allow me now, dear Ladies and Gentlemen, to address the Pontifical Academy of Theology of Krakow, heir to the Theology Faculty of the Jagiellonian University founded by Saint Hedwig six hundred years ago. Not only in the history of Polish theology, but also in that of Polish science and culture it has played - as I have said - an exceptional role. I have been closely associated with that Faculty, for it was there that I made my studies in philosophy and theology during the occupation and later received the doctorate and the qualification to teach. Today I have before my eyes above all the years of its dramatic struggles for existence at the time of the Communist dictatorship. I personally took part in those struggles as Archbishop of Krakow. That painful period merits, from every point of view, careful documentation and a detailed historical study. The Church never resigned herself to the fact of a unilateral and unjust suppression of the Faculty by the State Authorities of the time. She did everything in her power to ensure that the university environment of Krakow was not deprived of an academic "studium" of theology. Despite numerous difficulties and obstacles on the part of the Authorities, the Faculty continued to exist and function at the Major Seminary of Krakow. First as a Pontifical Faculty of Theology. Later the situation evolved to the point that the Pontifical Academy of Theology could be established in Krakow as an athenaeum made up of three faculties, in spiritual continuity with the ancient Theology Faculty of the Jagiellonian University. How then can I fail today, on the occasion of this Jubilee celebration, to give thanks to God who has enabled us not only to defend this great spiritual treasure of the Theology Faculty, but also to enlarge it and grant it a new, even more prestigious academic status? And thus the Pontifical Academy of Theology, together with other Catholic centres of learning in our homeland, is making its own contribution to the development of Polish learning and culture, while remaining a particular witness of our times - times of struggle for the right of theological athenaea to have a place in the academic landscape of present-day Poland.
4. Today's Jubilee celebrations bring to my mind a series of questions and reflections which are general and quite fundamental: What is a university? What is its role in culture and in society? Alma Mater. Alma Mater Jagellonica... This is the name by which the University is known, and it has a profound significance. Mater - mother, namely, the one who gives birth, educates and trains. A university bears some resemblance to a mother. It is like a mother because of its maternal concern. This is a spiritual concern: that of giving birth to souls for the sake of knowledge, wisdom, the shaping of minds and hearts. It is a contribution which is absolutely incomparable. Personally, years later, I see ever more clearly how much I owe to the University: love for the Truth and knowledge of the ways to seek it. A major part was played in my life by the great professors whom I had the opportunity to know: persons who enriched me and continue to do so by their spiritual grandeur. I cannot resist the heartfelt urge to mention today the names of at least some of them: Professors Stanislaw Pigón, Stefan Kolaczkowski, Kazimierz Nietsch, Zenon Klemensiewicz - all from the Faculty of Letters. And with them the professors of the Theology Faculty: Father Konstanty Michalski, Jan Salamucha, Marian Michalski, Ignacy Rózycki, Wladyslaw Wicher, Kazimierz Klósak, Aleksy Klawek. How many experiences and how many people are hidden behind the name: Alma Mater!
The vocation of every university is to serve truth: to discover it and to hand it on to others. This was eloquently expressed by the artist who designed the Chapel of Saint John Kety which adorns this Collegiate Church. The sarcophagus of Master John has been placed on the shoulders of figures personifying the four traditional Faculties of the University: Medicine, Jurisprudence, Philosophy and Theology. This brings to mind precisely the image of the University, which, through the work of research carried out by many scientific disciplines, gradually approaches the supreme Truth. Man transcends the boundaries of individual branches of knowledge in order to direct them towards that Truth and towards the definitive fulfilment of his own humanity. Here we can speak of the solidarity of the various branches of knowledge at the service of man, called to discover ever more completely the truth about himself and the world around him.
Man has a lively awareness of the fact that the truth is above and beyond him. Man does not create truth; rather truth discloses itself to man when he perseveringly seeks it. The knowledge of truth begets a spiritual joy (gaudium veritatis), alone of its kind. Which of you, dear Ladies and Gentlemen, has not experienced in greater or lesser measure such a moment in your work of research? I hope that moments of this kind will be frequent in your work. In this experience of joy at having known the truth we can see also a confirmation of man's transcendent vocation, indeed, of his openness to the infinite.
If today, as Pope, I am here with you, men and women of science, it is to tell you that the men and women of our time need you. They need your scientific curiosity, your perceptiveness in asking questions and your honesty in trying to answer them. They also need that specific transcendence which is proper to Universities. The search for truth, even when it concerns a finite reality of the world or of man, is never-ending, but always points beyond to something higher than the immediate object of study, to the questions which give access to Mystery.How important it is that human thought should not be closed to the reality of Mystery, that man should not become insensitive to Mystery, that he should not lack the courage to plunge into the depths!
5. There are few things as important in human life and society as the service of thought. The "service of thought" to which I am alluding is essentially nothing other than the service of truth in its social aspect. Every intellectual, independently of his personal convictions, is called to let himself be guided by this sublime and difficult ideal and to function as a critical conscience regarding all that endangers humanity or diminishes it.
Being a scholar entails obligations! First of all, it entails the obligation of a particular concern for the development of one's own humanity. Here I wish to recall a man known personally by many of those present and by myself as well. Linked to the scientific circles of Krakow, he was a professor at the Polytechnical Institute of Krakow. To our generation he became a particular witness of hope. I am thinking of the Servant of God Jerzy Ciesielski. His passion for science was inseparably linked to an awareness of the transcendent dimension of truth. He united the meticulousness of a scientist and the humility of a disciple striving to hear what the beauty of the created world tells us of the mystery of God and of man. He turned his service as a man of science, his "service of thought" into a path to holiness. When we speak of the vocation of the scholar we cannot ignore this perspective either.
In the daily work of a scholar a particular ethical sensitivity is also needed. For it is not enough to be concerned about the logical, formal correctness of one's thinking. The workings of the mind must necessarily be nourished by the spiritual climate of indispensable moral virtues like sincerity, courage, humility, honesty, and an authentic concern for man. Moral sensitivity makes it possible to preserve a connection between truth and goodness which is very essential for science. These two problems cannot in fact be separated! The principle of freedom of scientific research cannot be separated from the ethical responsibility of every scholar. In the case of men and women of science this ethical responsibility is particularly important. Ethical relativism and purely utilitarian attitudes represent a danger not only for science but directly for individuals and for society.
Another condition for a sound development of science which I would like to emphasize is an integral notion of the human person. Here in Poland, the great debate on the theme of man in no way ended with the fall of Marxist ideology. It continues, and in some ways has even intensified. Debased forms of understanding the human person and the value of human life have become more subtle and for that reason more dangerous. Today there is need of great vigilance in this area. Here a vast field of activity opens up before the Universities, for men and women of science. A distorted or incomplete vision of man can easily make science change from a blessing into a serious threat to humanity. The great progress made by scientific research today fully confirms such fears. From being a subject and goal, man is not infrequently considered an object and even a form of "raw material"; here we need only mention experiments in genetic engineering which are a source of great hope but at the same time of considerable preoccupation for the future of the human race. The words of the Second Vatican Council, which I frequently refer to in my meetings with men and women of science, are truly prophetic: "Our age, more than any of the past, needs such wisdom to humanize man's discoveries. For the future of the world is endangered unless wiser men are forthcoming" (Gaudium et Spes GS 15). This is the great challenge which academic institutions today face in the fields of research and teaching: the training of men and women not only competent in their specialization or full of encyclopedic knowledge, but above all endowed with authentic wisdom. Only people with this kind of education will be capable of shouldering responsibility for the future of Poland, Europe and the world.
6. I know that scholarship in Poland is presently at grips with many difficult problems, as for that matter is the whole of Polish society.
I spoke of this at greater length at the meeting in the Vatican with the Rectors of the Polish Universities. Nevertheless, signs of hope are not lacking. Polish scholars, often in very difficult conditions, are carrying on with great dedication the work of research and teaching. Not infrequently they attain significant positions in the world of learning. Today I wish to express my heartfelt esteem for all committed to the promotion of Polish scholarship, my appreciation of their daily efforts, and my congratulations on their achievements.
Thank you so much for this meeting! I have greatly looked forward to it as a means of testifying once more that questions of science are not indifferent to the Church. Ladies and Gentlemen, I wish you always to know that the Church is with you - and, in conformity with her mission - desires to be at your service. I ask those present to convey my cordial greetings to the Academic Senates, professors, teaching staff, administrative and technical personnel and the young university students of the Institutions from which you come.
In conclusion, I address the venerable Jubilarians: the Jagiellonian University and the Pontifical Academy of Theology, and I offer my best wishes for an abundant outpouring of the gifts of the Holy Spirit for their further service to Truth.
Invoking the intercession of our Holy Patrons, Saint Stanislaus, Bishop and Martyr, Saint John of Kety and Saint Hedwig, foundress of the Jagiellonian University and of its Theology Faculty, I cordially impart to all of you my Apostolic Blessing: in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Speeches 1997 - Zakopane