Pope arrives in Poland

Benedict XVI yesterday arrived in Poland saying faith, thanksgiving and remembrance would be the guiding themes of his four-day trip.

Evoking the memory of the Polish-born John Paul II, "my beloved predecessor," Pope Benedict said he was making visit "to follow in the footsteps of his life from his boyhood until his departure for the memorable conclave" that elected him Pope in 1978.

But even before his plane took off from Rome, the Pope also highlighted the importance of the visit he planned to make on 28 May to the site of the Nazis' Auschwitz-Birkenau camps.

The German-born Pope said he would be remembering the millions who were killed by the Nazis, but also hoped his visit would remind the world "how man can truly lose his dignity by trampling on others."

The lesson of Auschwitz, he said, should "give birth to a new sense of humanism and humanity," underlining how essential it is for people to recognise that each person is created in the image of God in order to ensure that nothing similar can happen again.

Arriving yesterday at the Warsaw airport, the Pope began his address by reading the first three sentences in Polish. While he read some parts of the speech in Italian, an aide read most of it for him in Polish.

In the text, the Pope called the Holocaust a result of the "tragic tyranny" of Nazism.

He said that at Auschwitz he hoped to pray with survivors "that the wounds of the past century will heal," particularly through efforts to request and grant forgiveness.

While Pope John Paul's memory would be present at almost every stop on the itinerary, Pope Benedict said his trip is not simply a "sentimental journey, although it is certainly that, too."

The Pope said he wanted to make a "journey of faith," helping Poles solidify their commitment to living the faith and being strengthened in turn by the expressions of faith Poles would share with him.

After leaving the airport, the Pope went by popemobile to Warsaw's Cathedral of St John, driving along streets lined with cheering and waving crowds.

At the Cathedral, the Pope met with close to 1,000 representatives of the Polish clergy and emphasised that the task of strengthening the faith of Polish Catholics rested largely on their shoulders.

"Believe in the power of your priesthood," he told them.

The Pope paid tribute to the often-heroic endurance of Polish priests and Poles in general during the Nazi occupation and under communism.

"Let us remember with appreciation and gratitude those who did not let themselves be overwhelmed by the forces of darkness, and let us learn from them the courage to be consistent and constant in our adherence to the Gospel of Christ," he said.

"Christ needs priests who are mature, virile, capable of cultivating an authentic spiritual paternity," he said.

Pope, in Poland, says faith, thanks, remembrance to guide trip (Catholic News Service 25/5/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Pope Benedict XVI: Apostolic Journey to Poland
Welcome ceremony at the International Airport of Okecie - Address (Warsaw, 25 May 2006)
Meeting with the Clergy in the Cathedral of St. John in Warsaw - Address (May 25, 2006)

Pope to pray at Auschwitz death camp (CathNews 25/5/06)

Pope Benedict XVI gets warm welcome in Poland (Monsters and Critics/Deutsche Presse-Agentur 25/5/06)
Visit by a German pope raises questions for Poles (Reuters 25/5/06)
Benedict on Polish pilgrimage following John Paul (Reuters 25/5/06)
Let priests be specialists in promoting man's encounter with God (AsiaNews.it 25/5/06)
I have come to follow in the footsteps of John Paul II, says Pope on beginning of Apostolic visit to Poland (Catholic News Agency 25/5/06)
Pope meets with Polish Clergy in Saint John's Cathedral (Catholic News Agency 25/5/06)
Pope to face ecumenical and social questions in Poland (Ekklesia 25/5/06)
Holy Father: 'faith is not a triumphal march' (Independent Catholic News 25/5/06)
Pope begins visit to Poland (Independent Catholic News 25/5/06)
Pope strives to heal wounds from WWII (Associated Press/Mercury News 25/5/06)
Roger Boyes: Church and faith not shared by all (The Australian 26/5/06)
Faith a Journey of Suffering and Love, Says Pope (Zenit 24/5/06)
Benedict XVI Looking Forward to Poland (Zenit 24/5/06)
1 in 10 Poles Expect to See Benedict XVI (Zenit 24/5/06)
Pope Benedict XVI: On Peter, the Apostle (Zenit 24/5/06)
Benedict XVI's Program for Trip to Poland (Zenit 24/5/06)

26 May 2006