A MAN OF PROPHETIC THOUGHTS
FR. MARIUSZ FRUKACZ: - The 70th anniversary of death of the Venerable God’s Servant cardinal August Hlond, attributable on 22 October this year, connects with the 40th anniversary of the pontificate beginning of St. John Paul II. Does Priest agree with the thesis that it is difficult to imagine the ministry of cardinal Stefan Wyszyński, the Primate of the Millennium and pontificate of John Paul II without cardinal August Hlond?
FR. DR. BOGUSŁAW KOZIOŁ TChr: - Certainly, I agree with this thesis. As I once said, this is a kind of a triptych of the people: cardinal August Hlond, cardinal Stefan Wyszyński and John Paul II. Surely a lot connected cardinal Hlond with cardinal Wyszyński. Cardinal Wyszyński mentioned about it in his notes ‘Pro memoria’. On his deathbed cardinal Hlond recommended his secretary, the later archbishop Antoni Baraniak, to ask the Holy See to appoint cardinal Wyszyński, a younger bishop of Lublin then, as the primate of Poland. Certainly, the Holy See agreed to it quickly. Cardinal Hlond died on 22 October and in the beginning of November the primate Wyszyński had already been appointed. It also proves the great significance of cardinal Hlond in the Holy See. Only after a few years did the primate Wyszyński get to know about this intervention of cardinal Hlond. Cardinal Wyszyński often said openly that he was continuing the thought and the work of the primate Hlond. Like considering devotion and entrustment of Poland to Our Lady. For the first time cardinal August Hlond had done it in 1946. Later it was repeated by the primate Wyszyński, which he clearly confirmed that his pastoral thought concerning the Church in Poland was a continuation of the thought of cardinal Hlond. What is more, later, when Karol Wojtyła was elected a pope, the primate Wyszyński confirmed in the church of St. Stanisław the Bishop and Martyr in Rome before the pontificate that at that moment prophecy which cardinal Hlond had said on his deathbed – ‘victory, when comes, will be the victory of Mary’ had just appeared through the election of pope John Paul II, whose motto was ‘Totus Tuus’, that is , also complete reference to Our Lady. What is more, we must look at the convergence in the category of Divine Providence. The pontificate of John Paul II began exactly on the same day and at the same time 30 years after death of cardinal August Hlond. The primate Hlond died on 22 October 1948 at about 10.30. the inauguration of the pontificate took place on 22 October 1978 at 10.00. It proves how great the relation among those three people was.
Once Fr. Prof. Czesław Bartnik wrote in his ‘Theology of the nation’ about two ideas of cardinal Hlond – a victory which would come through Mary and ‘Pentecost of the Slavs’ which were reminded by John Paul II on 3 June 1979 in Gniezno. How valid is the teaching of cardinal August Hlond for our today’s Polish reality?
When one reads the teaching of cardinal Hlond today, particularly in the field of the Catholic social teaching – concerning the country, Homeland, patriotism, family – it is still very valid. As if the primate Hlond has written to us, the contemporary world today. The problems which he touched on did not lose their validity. His teaching is strongly based on the Decalogue, on such fundamental rules, as maintaining family, the notion of a good family. And we see what is happening in the contemporary world, how fierce attack on the family is. There are even attempts to change the definition of family. The same concerns the country. In Poznań there is a cycle ‘Verba Sacra’. One time I was asked to prepare a text with cardinal August Hlond on that occasion. When I read that text, it seemed very strong to me. Later according to the interpretation of actors who were reading that text in the cathedral in Poznań, it was much stronger – literally shivers were going down my back. It showed how valid that text is today.
When we are looking at the mentioned triptych of the people, we see that they became mighty people of faith through their suffering. Cardinal Hlond was arrested by the Germans during the Second World War, cardinal Wyszyński was imprisoned by the communist authorities in Poland and John Paul II was attacked by a gunman on the Square of St. Peter in Rome. So, can we treat this aspect of suffering and the cross as strengthening for the whole teaching of cardinal Hlond?
Cardinal Hlond was arrested by Gestapo in Paris, and later transported onto the area of the Third Reich. I think that it had much influence on his teaching. In his speech in Gniezno in 1975, cardinal Wyszyński called cardinal Hlond ‘a prisoner for the Name of Christ’. Probably cardinal Wyszyński expressed his attitude towards the imprisonment of cardinal Hlond by the Germans in this way, and earlier – his forced leaving Poland. Today there are often accusations of cardinal Hlond of the fact that he escaped from Poland, leaving his believers. The fact is that he had to leave Poland and later he was not allowed to return the country. What is interesting, his notes from the time when cardinal Hlond was in Lourdes, before his being arrested by Gestapo remained. He spent two and a half years there. These notes include very deep reflections concerning patriotism. The primate wrote about a vision of new Poland and about what rules it should be based on. In his notes he emphasized that on his forced emigration he had understood the sense of unifying with God – that his relation with God was important to him, but working on the areas imposed on him made him devote even more. And during his forced exile he understood that mainly getting unified with Christ through a personal prayer made sense for him as a pastor of the Church. All this made great sense, it was somehow conversion of the primate Hlond in his personal spiritual life.
The stay of cardinal Hlond on exile had its advantages. When he was in Rome, he could, for example, inform the Vatican Radio about the situation in Poland.
It was also the idea of the Polish government. It was one of arguments that the primate Hlond should emigrate with the Polish government – in order to be able to tell the world about what was happening in Poland. The primate did it, writing exact reports on barbarism done first by the Germans and then the Soviets. These reports were submitted by him to the Holy See, pope and he also spoke about it to the world. There is a speech of cardinal Hlond about Poland which he calls a martyr. The speech in the Vatican Radio includes the statement: ‘Poland, my martyr, you have not died’. Indeed, in this way the primate Hlond could show the world what was happening.
What stage is the beatification process of cardinal Hlond at?
Exactly on 21 Mary 2018 a Decree of heroism of virtues of cardinal August Hlond was promulgated. Since then he has been called ‘The Venerable God’s Servant’, and it means that the formal process – based on investigation, collecting documents, elaborating his virtues, heroism, life – has been completed. Now we are waiting for a miraculous event – a miracle which could serve to beatification.
How can we define the message of cardinal August Hlond?
It was mainly God’s love, faith in God. And from that faith love flowing to every man. As the spiritual son of St. Jan Bosko, he acted in the same spirit. It is emphasized in the bishop’s motto of cardinal Hlond: ‘Da mihi animas, caetera tolle’ (Give me souls, take the rest). And, I think, it is the main message which he was following in his life. This is great care about redemption of every man in the works which he undertook. This was just love to every man – regardless of somebody was a believer on not. Cardinal Hlond was a man of great prophetic thoughts, visions, a great patriot.
So, we encourage everybody to pray through the intercession of the Venerable God’s Servant cardinal August Hlond, so that his beatification would be completed as soon as possible. We are celebrating the 100th anniversary of regaining independence by Poland, and cardinal Hlond is also this person who was strengthening this independence…
Editing the Decree about heroism of virtues of cardinal August Hlond and celebrations of the 100th anniversary of regaining independence by Poland perfectly connect together and show that God wants us to be sensitive and see the care of the primate Hlond as a patriot – as a somebody who loved Homeland, about whose freedom he cared, wherever he was, and also pointed to the values coming from the Gospel – that Poland will be really free only when it will base its life and national acts on the values coming from the Gospel.
Translated by Aneta Amrozik
Niedziela 42/2018 (21 X 2018)