MARIA FORTUNA-SUDOR: – Priest Cardinal, the Eminence remember Palm Sundays on which John Paul II used to meet with the youth in Rome?

CARDINAL STANISŁAW DZIWISZ: – The Holy Father was very surprised by the number of not only the Italian youth, who every year used to make pilgrimages to Rome in response to the Pope’s invitation. It was great joy for John Paul II. I do not have to remind how sensitive the Holy Father was to young people.

– And it worked both ways.

– Yes, it did, indeed. And this love suggested him a thought about establishing cyclical events during which the youth from all over the world meet together in order to experience of joy about the Gospel, joy about being a Christian person. The Holy Father saw sensitivity of young people. He was aware that they needed talks, meetings. He noticed their worries. These meetings were to help them experience their youth, including solving problems connected with getting mature for full life.
And it was how these days were established. Blessed days. It was the most important Christian pastoral initiative of John Paul II. It was followed by: the World Days of Family, the World Day of the Ill…

– For other meetings with the youth John Paul II chose places in various parts of the world. What did he consider in his choices?

– First of all, he received invitations from various countries. There had always been lots of them. The Holy Father with the Papal Council for the Laymen, especially with the department for the youth decided in which country other world youth’s days were to be organized. He talked with cooperators and then he made a choice. Certainly, he included the social situation of a particular country. If he decided that such a meeting could bring positive fruits, including making the local Church dynamic, he would decide that in a particular country the other World Youth’s Days would take place.

– Priest Cardinal has participated in all meetings of John Paul II with the youth. Which one does Priest Cardinal remember in particular?

– Each of them had its image. The program of the World Youth’s Days was similar and there were the same purposes, but their realization and experience – always specific for a particular place. Undoubtedly, what resulted from these meetings in the first place, was the meeting organized in Rome in 2000, on the turn of not only centuries but also millenniums. In response to the invitation of the Holy Father, 2 million young people from all over the world arrived at the capital of Christianity! They were walking through the gate of the millennium, being aware that they were bringing their faith in Jesus Christ into a new millennium with a task of passing it over to other generations.
The Holy Father had already had difficulty with walking, but the youth, as usually, fulfilled his heart with joy and gave him strength. The joy was also felt by Rome. The city authorities were afraid that so many young people would arrive during holiday. Whereas, it turned out that Rome inhabitants reacted to young pilgrims in a friendly way; they had prepared food for them and gave them accommodation in their houses.

– I remember the transmission of this meeting. Looking at the ill Holy Father, I recall biblical prophets. The contemporary world does not respect elderly and ill people, but everyone respected and listened to John Paul II. Please, tell us, what the Holy Father had in his person that in this new world he gained popularity wherever he appeared?

– John Paul II was not an actor. He did not play a role of the pope. He was a pastor and was leading people, the Church, the youth. He was aware that he was the father of this youth which he loved. And the youth felt this closeness, this care, this feeling. It was the bond between them. It was love for love. The Holy Father said that the man who loves, does not get older. He had heart always young and full of love!

– And how does Eminency perceive the World Youth’s Days in Częstochowa in 1991 from the perspective of time?

– The meeting at Jasna Góra had a decisive significance for the form of meetings with the youth, for development of this event. It was a breakthrough. It took on a different, deeper religious character. There was less aspect of secularism, fun, although it is nothing bad. It was Jasna Góra where the element of deep experience of faith, prayer and meeting with God was expressed. Besides at Jasna Góra young people from the West and the East met together. And although each World Youth’s Day has its character, starting with the one in Częstochowa, it is the time of catechesis, deepening faith, great prayer and joy. Evangelical joy.

– In 2016, it will have been 25 years since the World Youth’s Day at Jasna Góra. Will this fact be emphasized within the meeting of the youth with the Holy Father Francis in Cracow?

– I think that this event will be reminded. Although there is another element in Cracow – God’s Mercifulness! In fact the current Pope was brought up in the light of the mercifulness sense. At a meeting with Polish bishops he said that at his home the Chaplet to Divine Mercifulness had been said. He mentioned that he had been taught this prayer by his grandmother when he had been a child. I think that the World Youth’s Days in Cracow will be another blessed time, so that the spark of Mercifulness would again spread all over the world! Here, in Cracow, young pilgrims will experience the mystery of Divine Mercifulness more and will take this message to their homes. In this way the testament of John Paul II will be realized again, so that Divine Mercifulness would spread all over the world.
I hope that Divine Mercifulness will be shown to the world by the youth this time, especially when it is difficult for the world to get converted, the world which can rely only on Divine Mercifulness! Through these days we want to touch the mystery of Divine Mercifulness, get immersed into it and also pass it over to others.

– Eminency perceives the youth as people full of ideals. But in many Poles, also those living in Cracow, there is anxiety that young people similar to tourists visiting our city at weekends will come to have only fun here….

– Young people are reasonably-thinking. Although we must also remember that there are also those who are not thinking about their future, and are not aware that they are using this time in life – years of their youth in a wrong way. Instead of building their future, they are destroying it. But we are working on showing the beauty of the youth to young people. The example of it is a Home Hospital – an idea through which young people want moral renewal of Cracow for the arrival of young people from all over the world. For this purpose they are praying and repent. And it is happening. We must look respectfully at this good youth who do exist!

– I heard that, despite the fact that it is possible only from July to get registered, there are already big groups which have reported their participation in the forthcoming World Youth’s Day.

– There are a lot of applications! For example, the Italian Episcopate reported 150 thousand people and a hundred of bishops! Hierarchs will participate in a pilgrimage to Jasna Góra a day before. Moreover, from Italy Neo-catechumenate reported about 250 thousand pilgrims! The French Episcopate - 80 thousand. About 200 groups had already been reported from the United States last year. They preceded everyone and organized their stay on their own! I would like to emphasize that schools, dormitories, seminaries, army, houses and flats of Cracow inhabitants are open to the arrival of the youth in Cracow. There is enthusiasm!
Here it is worth emphasizing that the World Youth’s Day is a great popularity for the city. It is also an advantage for those who live by tourism. I asked cardinals from Madrid whether they had a deficit in budget after the World Youth’s Day. They answered that the city and organizers benefited from it, although it was not the purpose of the event.

– Is it known where the meetings will take place?

– Near Cracow. At least on the first days. Whereas, if it is possible to prepare big space near Wieliczka, prayer vigil at night and the Holy Mass finishing the event would be held there.

– Priest Cardinal often emphasizes that these are young people who were initiators of organizing the World Youth’s Days in Cracow, they are hosts of the event. What would Eminency like to say through ‘Niedziela’?

– I would like to tell young people from whole Poland, that it is going to be their feast and invite them to participate in it! I ask young people to participate in it and open up to pilgrims from all over the world. I want them to help the pilgrims experience the time in God’s way, in joy, so that this meeting would serve to the idea of regaining peace in the world. The World Youth’s Day is also a great chance for experiences exchange, for learning about other cultures. This is time of giving and gaining knowledge. This is time for giving testimonies.


„Niedziela” 13/2015

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: