They served till the end
Archbishop Jozef Michalik
Every unexpected tragedy, every sudden death is a shock for relatives. The victims of this crash included the President of the Republic of Poland, the last Polish President in Exile, the Field Bishop of the Polish Army, many people from the closest environment of the President, many MPs and Senators – people who were elected by the nation; who the nation regarded as having the highest confidence and authority because they held these posts. Therefore, in some way, we all, the whole nation, has been touched by this tragedy. The Church in our Homeland looks at this event with human compassion but we are also trying to look at it through the perspective of faith. All of them died while serving the country, fulfilling their duties. They went to pay homage to the elite of the Second Polish Republic: the officers, the educated people, the people in whom the pre-war Poland had great expectations and who died in a horrible way in Katyn, murdered by Stalin’s regime. They paid the highest homage – the sacrifice of their lives – to the people whose lives had been taken in 1940. It is another sign to interpret; that there are such values for which people give their lives, offer their service. Thanks to that the future interpretation of history will have to take into account this element of sacrifice of life, both the sacrifice of those officers who had lost their lives in Katyn and those who died today to honour them, honour the values the officers had served. They followed the same values. Each of us should realise that one should build life in our Homeland many a time with sacrifice and offering, with that faithfulness till the end.
I am very moved because several priests, including the Field Bishop of the Polish Army, lost their lives. They also created the atmosphere of responsibility. They served our Homeland. Recently we hosted Bishop Tadeusz Ploski in Przemysl as he wanted to take part in all patriotic celebrations in the whole of Poland. And he came to honour the first transports of Poles to Siberia and during that time he delivered a very important sermon. And the fruit of this young, very talented man, can be seen in his published speeches. He was flexible, eager to help various people, especially those who served the Homeland, the army, but he was also a man who could enter into beautiful relationships, who did his best to make sensible the conscience of those in the state and governmental structures. Taking this perspective one should look at the responsibility of this function today when Bishop Tadeusz passed away. It will not be easy to replace him. It is never easy to replace anyone. But trying to look at this from God’s dimension we trust that there is some sense in it, that it is some lesson to learn and take conclusions, to notice the role of suffering, the role of offering that creates environment, nation, hierarchy of values.
After President Kennedy’s death the American nation was even more united around this office. I think that it is a very important challenge for us as well. During the national mourning period the whole Church in Poland is praying for those who lost their lives and for our Homeland, for the victims’ families and for all of us. The thing is that the epoch we are living in should be enriched by our prayers as it has been enriched by the offerings of those who lost their lives.
I would like to express my compassion to those who have suffered, first of all, to the families and friends of the dead – there are many people who had relationships with them in our country and abroad. May God’s blessing and help of God’s grace accompany them all through this time of mourning and through their lives that they will have to live in earthy separation but in the hope that the intercessory prayers of those who lost their lives will support them during these important moments.