The second term of Archbishop Michalik

Piotr Chmielinski

The Metropolitan of Przemysl Archbishop Jozef Michalik was elected president of the Polish Bishops’ Conference. Thus he has begun his second, five year, term. The bishops also re-elected the deputy president: Archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki of Poznan.

The elections of the president and deputy president of the Polish Bishops’ Conference were the most important matters of the 347th Plenary Assembly of the Bishops’ Conference, which was held on 10-11 March in Warsaw. At the beginning of the meeting Archbishop Michalik stressed that the function of the president ‘teaches responsibility not only for the relationship to one’s own diocese and the Church but also for the picture of the Church in Poland and Europe.’ He had asked the bishops not to consider him as a potential candidate. However, Archbishop Michalik’s name was found among the 14 candidates suggested by the bishops in the first voting round. Six bishops, including Archbishop Michalik, were elected during the second voting round. Besides him, as the Catholic Information Agency (KAI) informed, there were the following bishops (in alphabetical order): Bishop Ignacy Dec, Cardinal Stanisław Dziwisz, Archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki, Archbishop Slawoj Leszek Głodz and Archbishop Kazimierz Nycz. 92 bishops voted. The biggest number of votes was given to Archbishop Michalik. This means that the Metropolitan of Przemysl was re-elected as the president of the Polish Bishops’ Conference. Cardinal Jozef Glemp, Poland’s Primate, announced the results of the voting. He also asked Archbishop Michalik whether he accepted the bishops’ choice. After having thought about that Archbishop Michalik accepted the will of the bishops.

Listening to the signs of the times

– You must be disappointed by that circumstance just as I am’, the new-old President of the Polish Bishops’ Conference told the journalists during the press conference. He added that he had wanted to fulfil this task only for one term and he even had transported some of his things from Warsaw. ‘However, there are such situations, especially in priestly life, that man must face another challenge despite his conviction that someone else could do it better and more effectively. Therefore, I had to withdraw my request not to consider me as a candidate. And I am leaving the rest to God and people’, Archbishop Michalik said. Asked about the most important challenges that the Church in Poland faced the President of the bishops’ Conference stated that one had to listen and look for the signs of the times because the signs of the times were the signs of the Divine Providence given to people. Another important thing is to be sensitive to man, which is related to social problems. ‘We cannot ignore that we are experiencing a big moral crisis in Poland and there are many affairs which when revealed could solve the problems of the national debt and which we faced and felt helpless. And for me this is not the problem of false economy but sick moral system’, Archbishop Michalik said. He added that the task of the Church was not to win but to proclaim the truth and to open people’s eyes. The President of the Polish Bishops’ Conference referred to the contents of the Vatican document that responded to the report of the Historical Commission examining the materials concerning the Polish bishops, preserved in the Institute of National Remembrance. The Holy See noticed the effects of that work and found no grounds to intervene in any way. Archbishop Michalik also referred to the problems he had experienced because of his fictional arrest by the Security Services. ‘Then we belonged to the category that was the target of the contemporary authorities. After all we could not treat them as inferior people. One should talk to them gently. That was we were taught at the seminary and perhaps Someone else in the Gospel commanded us to treat people having different points of view. And then it suddenly occurs that the conversations were related as those people wanted. And if their opinions are important and the opinion of the arrested should be also considered’, Archbishop Michalik said. He stressed that during his second term he would like to see more faithfulness to God, understanding between people and sensitivity to others and fewer lies and less brutality. ‘The results of the elections testify about the maturity of the Bishops’ Conference’, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz of Krakow commented on the re-election of Archbishop Michalik. In his opinion the first term of Archbishop Michalik and Archbishop Gadecki showed that he had led the Bishops’ Conference in such a way that the activities of the Conference referred to life in Poland. ‘Thus it was the appreciation for the first term’, Cardinal Dziwisz stressed in his interview for KAI.

Crisis – because people rejected the truth

The elections of the president and his deputy were not the only elements of the bishop’s meeting. They paid much attention to the economic crisis. Bishop Wiktor Skworc of Tarnow stated that the word ‘crisis’ was one of the most frequently repeated words. ‘The cause of the crisis is people’s rejecting the truth as the principle of social and economic life’, Bishop Skworc emphasised. Facing this phenomenon the Church reminded people about solidarity. ‘We are appealing to employers: companies are not only responsible for production, profit but also for the human capital. In turn, we are appealing to employees to collaborate to overcome the effects of the crisis. One must minimise the social effects of the crisis and the Church wants to be involved in such activities’, Bishop Skworc said. The bishops appealed to parish communities, Catholic movements and associations to offer concrete help to all those who have been afflicted by the crisis. ‘The crisis is also a time for trial and challenge to persevere in self-control and solidarity, to share and care for the needy so that nobody feels forsaken and left alone’, we read in the final communiqué. The other topics of the discussion included bioethical matters, preparations to the 30th anniversary of the first pilgrimage of John Paul II to Poland and concern for priestly-religious vocations. The special guest of the meeting was Kiko Argüello, who initiated the Neocatechumenal Way. At the end of the sessions the bishops issued a special statement (the text on top of the page).

"Niedziela" 12/2009

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
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