I thank the Queen of Families in Wambierzyce
Lilianna Sicinska talks to Cardinal Joachim Meisner, Archbishop of Cologne and host of the World Youth Day, in Wambierzyce
Cardinal Meisner, born in Lesnica near Wroclaw, often visits Lower Silesia. He is very communicative in every contact with people. He loves children very much and says that they are the greatest joy and sense of our lives. He asks parents about their children and grandparents about their grandchildren. He blesses every child he meets and asks parents to bless them, too. Cardinal Joachim Meisner, Archbishop of Cologne, came to Wambierzyce, the Sanctuary of the Virgin Mary, the Queen of Families, at the invitation of Bishop Ignacy Dec, Swidnica. There was a special celebration on 28 August in Wambierzyce - the 25th anniversary of the coronation of the Miraculous Statue of the Mother of God by Primate Stefan Wyszynski. This year several thousand pilgrims arrived at the Sanctuary in the Klodzko Valley, including our neighbours from the Czech Republic (with Bishop Duka, Hradec Kralove), from Germany (with Bishop Reinelt, Dresden) and from Slovakia. As it was with the Millennial Primate people prayed for 'families who are strong with God'.
Lilianna Sicinska: - A year ago you brought a candle to Our Lady of Wambierzyce, offering it in the intention of the World Youth Day. Today you have offered another candle to thank for those days. What are your impressions a few days after that great event?
Cardinal Joachim Meisner: - We were given the World Youth Day. We were only able to organize it but the spiritual part has been given to us. From the beginning I was convinced that it would be a great and special event because that Day was the first event in co-operation with two Popes: great Pope John Paul II and our good Benedict XVI.
Even the German journalists were deeply moved since they saw that there was not only globalisation of evil, which was expressed, for example by terrorism, but also globalisation of good, which was shown by young Christians. The most astonishing thing is that the young people do not want to participate in such permissive, stabilized adults' life and they look for new values.
- Recently I talked to some Polish students who came back from the World Youth Day in Cologne. They had edifying recollections of their meeting with the Holy Father and their peers from all over the world but they mentioned other things as well. For example, they were impressed by the generosity and hospitality of the families. They talked about overcoming stereotypes. What do you think of these phenomena? Do you see them as symptoms of European unity, which people speak of so much?
- We are not concerned with the political dimension of this friendship but with a true dimension of Christianity since there are no borders or national divisions in Christianity. There is unity in Christ. As far as hospitality is concerned, I have often repeated that we should learn it from our Eastern neighbours. For in Poland people are obliged to fulfil the motto: 'Host at home means God at home'. Therefore, it is most likely that this feature has come to us from Poland. We all wanted to host the young people from all over the world as best as possible. For example, it happened that certain company, responsible for catering during the World Youth Day, had problems with organization in the first days, and some meals were delayed or even some people did not have any meals at all. Then I asked the young people to go to the closest restaurants, pubs and eat their fill and the bills should be sent to me.
- What fruit of that great meeting in Cologne can be expected?
- The most important fruit of those days is that Christianity is being spread farther and farther. If somebody touches some radioactive material he becomes radioactive and 'infects' others. If somebody touches Christ, he becomes 'Christ-active' and in contacts with people he 'infects' others. I do hope that the events in Cologne will be radiant and activities in Christ will spread. Because of the World Youth Day over 3,500 source groups (the so-called Kertime) were formed in our German parishes. They catechised throughout the whole year and had practical preparations for the World Youth Day. At first the parish priests were sceptical. They said they could not entrust the youth with such an important matter because of their lack of experience. I remarked that it was the young people that should do that because it was their meeting and not a seniors' meeting. Then the parish priests admitted that I was right.
- Will those activities be continued?
- After the World Youth Day the young people will continue to meet. The Kertime groups will inspire further catechetical meetings in order to reflect the content and themes of the Cologne encounter. Next year we plan a pilgrimage to the places where there were meetings with the Holy Father and where Benedict XVI celebrated Masses. We also want to go out in the streets of Cologne, Bonn, Düsserdorf and other cities and organize street evangelization.
- 25 years ago, when Primate Stefan Wyszynski put crowns on the Miraculous Statue of the Mother of God in Wambierzyce, he delivered a homily, which was enthusiastically received in the context of the protest of the Polish workers. Today we celebrate the 25th anniversary of 'Solidarity'. How do you - a frequent visitor to our country - see our way to freedom and our future?
- When Karol Wojtyla became Pope, the strength of his mind and faith spread from the level of Poland to the level of the world. Then we saw cracks on the communist walls and the first crack in Communism was 'Solidarity'. Without 'Solidarity' there would be no free Europe and without John Paul II there would be no 'Solidarity'. However, I would like to say something critical: the Polish people are marked with greatness when they are in crises. But when they get the freedom they dreamt of they themselves create problems. And Europe needs free and united Poland. It is very important to Europe and I would expect that of the Polish people.
- Thank you for the conversation.