EUROPE, WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH YOUR BAPTISM?
ANNA JANOWSKA: - The initiative of the ‘Europa Christi’ movement is making wider and wider circles. This year’s congress which is held on 14 – 22 October are eight sessions in six cities, lectures of a few dozen speakers. What is the basic purpose of this year’s congress?
FR. IRENEUSZ SKUBIŚ: I would call the congress of the ‘Europa Christi’ movement 2018 the Congress of Resurrection. I mean that Europe has lost its sense by listening to Fryderyk Nietzsche, a German philosopher, who announced: ‘God died!’. One can somehow say that Europe began to believe Nietzsche and began to be without the Father, without the Creator. What is happening in Europe, is acting when being blindfold. By rejecting God, rejecting Christ Europe became like an orphan, deprived of its identity. Because European identity is Christian identity, the identity which was built by the Gospel. As we have often said, it is anchored in the Greek philosophy, in the Roman law and based on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Bible is mainly the Decalogue and commandment of love towards our neighbours. It seems that Europe is departing from these rules, these basic values and it is getting lost. It is proven by churches being sold in Western Europe. Christian Catholics are crying because of it now, but they feel helpless. It seems that some representatives of the Church are undergoing this psychosis. We want to bring back Europe its faith in resurrection. Theology of Resurrection is that Christ said: ‘I have risen and I am with you’, leads to the joyful ‘Alleluia’, that is, to a kind of liberating power. Through this congress we would like to liberate hope, strength and power of resurrection anew, which should exist in Europe, especially in Western Europe, in a strong and definite way.
On the list of speakers who arrived at the congress held in Częstochowa, Warsaw, Rzeszów, Lublin, Łódź and Cracow, there are also surnames of prominent representatives of the Church, the academic world and the culture world. One of them is Carl Anderson, with a lecture entitled: ‘Poland a hope for Europe’.
Carl Anderson is the Supreme Knight of the Columbus Knights’ Order, an American who was very close to John Paul II. He is a man of the supreme class, who noticed and appreciated the genius of the Polish Pope, visible also today, when we are studying the thought of the Holy Father, looking at his teaching, referring to his documents – the ones which were published as papal documents, and also his lectures, books, speeches which he gave during his 104 pilgrimages all over the world. Carl Anderson noticed it and also the role of Poland. He also spoke about this mission as a spark which would go out from Poland. The indications of this mission are, among the others, St. Faustyna and St. Maksymilian Kolbe – an unusual witness of the death camp in Auschwitz, who showed us what Christianity is and what the testimony of faith in Christ is. The indicator is also beatified Fr. Jerzy Popiełuszko – John Paul II called him a man of Europe, who marks Christian presence in Europe. It is noted by Carl Anderson, and his lecture is a testimony of his awareness. The Columbus Knights are the biggest Catholic organization in the world, with nearly 2 million members. In Poland there are already 5.5 thousand Columbus Knights. We are glad that Carl Anderson arrived at the congress with such an important message.
And what are the topics of the sessions?
I would like to refer to the sessions in the Senate of the Republic of Poland which are going to be attended by representatives of Viktor Orban and Mateusz Morawiecki, because the prime ministers are having their meeting in Salzburg at that time. We are looking forward to a lecture by prof. Michał Seweryński, a vice speaker of the Senate who is going to speak about Christianity in Europe. There are going to be representatives of Italian Catholics: prof. Massimo Gandolfini – a great activist for families in Italy, and also prof. Marina Casini – a daughter of an Italian senator who is an activist of a pro-life movement ‘Uno di noi’ (‘One of us’). We are glad about the presence of cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Muller, the former prefect of the Congregation of Faith Teaching. He is going to share his thoughts with us, concerning re-christianization of Europe. Another prominent speaker is dr. George Weigel – the best biographer of John Paul II, who presented us with thoughts and the person of the Pope in many books. The congress is also attended by a delegation from Italia and prof. Luca Pingani, the representative of the International Observatory Centre of Social Doctrine of the Church named cardinal Van Thuan in Vatican. His pronouncement is the result of sociological studies on Christianity in Europe. The schedule of the congress also includes pronouncements of other academic representatives from universities in Poland and abroad. On 16 October – we celebrated the day of the 40th anniversary of electing John Paul II in Rzeszów-Jasionce with a great meeting attended by a few thousand people and a concert ‘Decalogue’ with participation of musicians from all over the world. We heard the voice and words of St. John Paul II: ‘The fate of Poland, Europe and the world depends on these ten words, from the Decalogue’. On the 40th anniversary of electing John Paul II we ask pope Francis to proclaim him the patron of Europe. In Europe there are voices that the Polish Pope – St. John Paul II should be included in the group of patrons of Europe. I will say more, St. John Paul II should be not only the patron of Europe, but he should also be recognized as the father of Europe, because a lot of his statements are devoted to Europe and the vision of really great Europe. He proved it in his documents. The session in Rzeszów is a great call to Francis for proclaiming St. John Paul II the patron of Europe.
The topic of the congress is ‘Vision of Europe according to St. John Paul II’. Can Priest remind us of some papal documents on this issue?
John Paul II spoke about Europe a lot, showing the vision of Europe in its Christian rooting. The first document on which I want to focus is the so-called European Act from 1982, announced in Santiago de Compostela in which he presented the rooting of Europe in the Gospel and the teaching of Jesus Christ. He also showed a far- going look at the history of Europe and what Europe should live with and become today. The apostolic exhortation ‘Ecclesia in Europa’ was proclaimed at the end of the Polish pontificate. But John Paul II visited nearly all European countries and he expressed his thoughts there concerning their Christian roots. I will remind the visit in France with his great question: ‘France, what have you done with your baptism?’. Today I would say that John Paul II would ask this question to whole Europe: ‘Europe, what have you done with your baptism?’. And I think that the studies of John Paul II is studies of the university class. He expressed so many thoughts in every European country that they deserve a deep reflection. Similarly, pilgrimages to Poland – we should study the words said by him, as they were deeply thought out. John Paul II had a great philosophical, political and cultural vision concerning both the whole European continent and particular countries. He knew that Europe is multi-cultural. Including it in the evangelical thought proves the greatness and beauty of Europe.
The economic session ending the congress has got quite a surprising topic: ‘Economy in the context of ‘Europa Christi’ ‘.
A lot is said about banking, finances, about what leads to economic development, but real greatness of Europe is based on the greatness of the spirit. If we remain based only on issues concerning the economic and material structure, it will not be enough. John Paul II tells us to think about economy in the context of God’s revelation, in the context of faith. It is important that business should be based on ethics, on morality. Economic activity, if it is deprived of ethical, moral elements, may connect with the human harm and become a tragedy. ‘Economy in the context ‘Europa Christi’ is a very important topic which should be present in the economic life and entrepreneurship. God said that the man is supposed to cultivate the land. The last session of the Second International Congress of the ‘Europa Christi’ movement which will be held on 22 October this year (on Monday) in the aula of the editorial office ‘Niedziela’ is very important and should gather people who deal with economy and a widely understood business. We cordially thank a lot of people and institutions for their help in organizing the congress. Here we should mention: Bank Polska Kasa Opieki Spółka Akcyjna, Bank Gospodarstwa Krajowego, Fundacja Orlen – Dar Serca, Adam M. Bak Foundation, Fundacja KGHM Polska Miedź, Fundacja Lotos, Grupa Energia – which made Firma Polska Wytwórnia Papierów Wartościowych S.A., Fundacja PGNiG SA named Ignacy Łukasiewicz, Poczta Polska, Buskowianka – Zdrój SA included in this action within the CSR strategy.
Translated by Aneta Amrozik
Niedziela 42/2018 (21 X 2018)