ABOUT POLES IN WESTERN EUROPE
Fr. WIESŁAW WÓJCIK TChr
On 4-6 October this year in the sanctuary of Mariabersna near Budapest there was a conference held ‘ Media in passing faith’, organized by the Polish Pastoral Council of Western Europe. The meeting was attended by: most rectors and coordinators of the Polish Catholic missions, European pastors, the General Superior of Christ’s Society, the General Mother of King Christ’s Missionaries for Polish Diaspora abroad, the Director of the Emigration Pastoral Ministry Institute from Poznań and laymen engaged in the activity of centres of Polish Diaspora in Germany, France, Austria, Luxembourg, Denmark, Switzerland, Scotland, in Hungary and in Italy. The debates were presided over bishop Wiesław Lechowicz, the delegate of the Polish Episcopal Conference for Polish Emigration Pastoral Ministry.
Implementing such an important issue today, bishop Lechowicz emphasized that media communication in the light of the Church teaching should be based on four basic pillars: the truth, freedom, respect for the human being and aiming at building the community.
A new dimension of network
In the modern world media are playing an important role. It is necessary for them to participate in passing the truth to others – said Fr. Andrzej Koprowski SJ, a program director of the Vatican Radio. In his opinion, the current generation of the youth is reacting more to ‘what it sees’, than to ‘what it reads’ – it does not have a developed memory. He emphasized that ‘participation in the social network makes contacts with others easier, opens others to possibilities of gaining knowledge and also manipulation, addiction, a false image of others and oneself’. He pointed to the need of ‘preaching the Gospel in new ways, which are able to speak to the modern cultures’. This way of preaching is pointed by pope Francis today, and his pontificate can be a chance for significant reaching of the Church to people with its message through mass media.
The Gospel through Skype
The usage of media in parish pastoral ministry was discussed by Fr. Marek Ciesielski, from Christ’s Society, a pastor of Polish Diaspora in Germany. He emphasized that the general principle in the pastoral ministry should be the method used by Jesus – ‘concentrating on an individual, not on a crowd’.
- A crowd of people must have a demagogue, a revolt, ruler and a tyrant. Revolutions were caused by those who knew how to use a crowd, but Jesus was loved by a crowd and betrayed by the same crowd – Fr. Ciesielski said. Basing on his pastoral ministry in Poland, USA and Germany he emphasized that every pastoral ministry should be concentrated on passing a message to an individual, not the crowd if it is to bring fruits. Only individuals, who live with the truth are able to create a community which is the Church.
Speaking about using media in a parish, in the first place he mentioned the need of systematic editing a parish newsletter, every week, the best. It should be available both in the church and sent via email.
Passing information from the parish and integrating this community should be done through a website today. A significant role is also played by Skype, for example, in creating parish biblical groups. Priests should be active in various social networks, for example, on Facebook, etc.
A strategy towards media
Marcin Przeciszeski, a chief editor of the Catholic Informative Agency, present at the conference, presented a media sphere surrounding us, which should be one of the most important missionary areas for the church today. – The Church cannot be absent in media, or what is worse, be in an atmosphere of tension with them – he said. He also explained that it is ‘an element of new evangelization which is also a way of using new methods and means which appear in a particular history moment’.
The picture of the Church presented in the most opinion-making media is mostly based on negative stereotypes which have nothing in common with the truth. – If we were to evaluate the activity of the Church only on the basis of relationships of the most opinion-making Polish media, we would deal with a greedy and narrow-minded institution, restricting freedom of its members, discriminating women and sexual minorities, but tolerant for pedophiles in their own groups – he said. The editor emphasized that regardless of the need of improving Catholic media, it is necessary to have a well-considered strategy of the Church towards secular media: the private and public ones. It should be based on the three pillars: a quick information of preemptive character than reacting to criticism, a clear and effective presence of the Church in a public debate, good contacts with the journalistic environment.
During the conference there was a discussion about the issue connected with organizing a pilgrimage of the Polish Diaspora community to Rome at the end of the Year of Faith, which will take place on 18-21 November this year.
Polish – Hungarian hospitality
The annual meeting of the Polish Council ended with a solemn Holy Mass in the Polish parish run by Christ’s Religious Order in Budapest. The parish priest Karol Kozłowski TChr in the Church of Mary Help of Believers welcomed the gathered pastoral groups of the Polish Catholic missions with bishop Wiesław Lechowicz and the current Roman Kowalski, the ambassador of the Polish Republic in Hungary.
The Polish Diaspora from Hungary, present at the prayer, in which there are most married couples, was very happy to welcome guests in the Papal House, erected before the Second World War, and renovated in 2000 by the Association Polish Community.
The meeting on the Hungarian land was an occasion to exchange experiences of the Polish Diaspora groups run in Western Europe. It was well-emphasized by bishop Lechowicz, who thanked for organizing this event – ‘common faith which united and unites Poles and the Hungarians requires a special care and development today’.