Krakow, honour and commitment
Fr Ireneusz Skubis talks to Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, Metropolitan of Krakow.
FR IRENEUSZ SKUBIS: - Your Eminence, 'Niedziela' begins its service to the Archdiocese of Krakow. The diocesan insert will be entitled 'Niedziela Malopolska'. Our first talk in these circumstances is, therefore, an occasion for the readers of the national edition of 'Niedziela', which also reaches Polish immigrants all over the world, to get to know your Archdiocese. Could you share your reflections on the history of the Krakow Church and the figures of your great predecessors.
CARDINAL STANISLAW DZIWISZ: - The Krakow Church has lasted for over one thousand years. So it is half of the history of Christianity. The Krakow Church has found its place in the history of our Homeland and the entire Europe. And thanks to our greatest Shepherd the Servant of God John Paul II it has become a part of the history of all nations. We (clergy and laymen) realise that the fact of coming from or living in the Archdiocese of Krakow is undoubtedly honour and commitment. Firstly, it is an obligation to take this legacy of faith and culture, the traces of which one can see everywhere, and develop it. Among the magnificent predecessors, bishops of the Krakow Cathedral, I want to mention first of all Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, who ordained me a priest in the Wawel Cathedral and a bishop in Rome. Saint Stanislaw of Szczepanow is also very close to me. As far as the direct predecessors, who were totally dedicated to the shepherd's ministry in the Church in Krakow, I would like to mention Cardinal Adam Stefan Sapieha, Archbishop Eugeniusz Baziak and Cardinal Franciszek Macharski.
- And what is your view of today's Church in Krakow, now that you can look at it from the perspective of the Vatican and from the perspective of the Shepherd of Krakow Archdiocese?
- From the Vatican point of view, as you have said, one can see that the Church in Krakow, like the whole Church in Poland, has always been faithful to the Holy Father. I think that we showed the entire world a proof of our faithful love many times, for example during the apostolic visit of Benedict XVI to our Homeland or in our numerous pilgrimages to the Vatican and in people's fantastic behaviour in the present papal audiences. Thus we can be proud of our attitude, which is an authentic witness to the unity of the universal Church.
On the other hand, I realize that the external signs of adherence to the Christian tradition must be supported by inner conviction, which will stand the test that we are to face, living in the world of plurality of views and attitudes. Many Catholics in the West do realize that faith is a valuable treasure, which cannot be 'taken into pieces'. Consequently, we must speak of the necessity to choose Christ, not only within the walls of churches but in our places of work, informal meetings and even in the circles of our closest families and friends.
- As editor of 'Niedziela' I always say to the bishop of he diocese that welcomes his edition of 'Niedziela' that we come to serve the concrete local Church, especially by writing about the pastoral ministry of the local bishop. What tasks would you assign 'Niedziela Malopolska' and what are the priorities, which we should include in our work from the very beginning?
- Let the paper be light for its readers. The strength of your weekly is in its clear character and in the fact that Catholics identify themselves with it. Your paper is simple ecclesiastical. I am confident that you will keep this characteristic in the Malopolska edition.
- Krakow is a very open environment and wants to hear about the life of the Church. We come into the environment of Krakow as a Catholic weekly, realizing that 'Tygodnik Powszechny' [Universal Weekly] has been as if rooted in the Krakow land...
- It is really a paper, which originated as a sign of the time in our diocese. One must appreciate its great merits. It happens that ( as it has been shown in a symbolic advertisement recently ( 'Tygodnik Powszechny' is sometimes 'inconvenient'. We wish very much that 'Tygodnik Powszechny' remained 'inconvenient'. But let this 'inconvenience' result from the principle: if someone reads the paper he will be 'salted' by the teaching of the Word of God, the teaching of Christ's Church. Readers expect exactly that when they see in the masthead that the paper vaunts of being Catholic. 'Tygodnik Powszechny' wants to reach other readers, so 'Niedziela Malopolska' will not compete with it.
- In what ways can 'Niedziela' be useful to Krakow? The founder of our weekly Bishop Teodor Kubina, before becoming Bishop of Czestochowa, was the editor of 'Gosc Niedzielny' in Katowice. It was him that called 'Niedziela' an additional priest in a parish. How can you see the presence of this 'priest' in parishes of your archdiocese?
- I count on my collaborators in this respect very much. Parish priests realize very well how important a good spiritual reading is. One of the reasons many believers have doubts is that their Christian worldview is not strong enough to reject various arguments of the contemporary, quite often secularised, world. Is the completed catechisation sufficient on the matter? Will a short sermon help? Are few Catholic programmes sufficient? Not quite. Therefore, we need systematic reading of Catholic press; its relevance, various topics, availability and accessibility. One should remember that.
By the way, a good and pious priest is always a treasure. Parish priests appreciate their assistants' work very much. Therefore, I wish that 'Niedziela Malopolska' became such a good 'priest'.
- Can 'Niedziela' serve the work of the great pontificate of John Paul II, which is indicated in the masthead of 'Niedziela Malopolska', showing the Holy Father, who blesses the faithful, next to the image of Merciful Jesus? And in what ways?
- You may remember the words our Pope said in Lagiewniki during his visit in 1997. Let us look at the text. We read, '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...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 '. And we read further, 'The Message of Divine Mercy has always been near and dear to me.'
And so answering your question I would say: if the Divine Mercy was so very dear to our Pope and if 'Niedziela', which he many a time blessed wholeheartedly, was dear to him, may the masthead, which you designed for all people, including the editor-in-chief, the entire editorial board, journalists and all readers, be tantamount to the policy of the paper, which can be defined the following: the paper wants to follow the entire teaching of John Paul II, and in particular the message of the Divine Mercy, and wants to do the way the Holy Father wished, i.e. in the unity with the Church in Poland.
- The main elements of pastoral ministry in diocese are: work in parishes, life of religious congregations, catechesis, activities in movements and Catholic associations. How will these tasks and works translate into their presence in 'Niedziela Malopolska'?
- I think these tasks will be the same as in the national edition. There are so many parishes, religious congregations and associations in Krakow and in the whole region of Malopolska that you will not lack topics to write about. Good, usually the silent one, is something more than you think when looking only at the media that pursue sensation and gossip. And that's why one should support good and present it in an accessible way. Since in our present situation we often need testimony of the truth and generosity much more than material goods.
- You witnessed the origin of the office of spokesman in the Apostolic See. You also saw when the Holy Father John Paul II started the Vatican network by pressing the ENTER key. Now you are a member of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications. Taking your experiences into consideration I would like to ask what tasks the Catholic media should undertake in the contemporary world. How can we use the cyber space and hyper media in the evangelisation of the world? Does the Church in Poland use the Catholic media well?
- Yes, it does but perhaps the Church uses too few media. As we know the Catholic media are to perform two tasks. Evangelisation should concern not only audience but also the media themselves. And this is not simple. On the one hand, we can see that the so-called info-sphere, in which each lives, has been tainted very dangerously. On the other hand, we deal with some kind of allergy to religious information, and sometimes a frontal attack on all Christian values.
What are we to do? We should simply work and improve our qualifications. We should improve the quality of, to use a modern language, media products we have created ourselves. At the same time, we should not forget the irreplaceable value of personal contacts, which after all no media can replace. And moreover, we should not get discouraged. Drawing from the Spirit of God we should be radiant with enthusiasm, which is to be passed to our readers, to our listeners as well as to our Internet users and to people we show a concrete television or film picture. Only by assuming such an attitude we proclaim the message of the Good News.