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Benedict XVI Reflects on Trip to Poland

6/2/2006 - 6:00 AM PST

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"All Christians Must Feel Committed to Give Testimony"

VATICAN CITY, June 02, 2006 (Zenit) - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Wednesday at the general audience. The Pope used the talk to reflect on his recent trip to Poland.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters:

Today I wish to go over with you the stages of the apostolic trip I made in recent days to Poland. I thank the Polish episcopate, in particular the metropolitan archbishops of Warsaw and Krakow, for the zeal and care with which they prepared this visit. I again express my gratitude to the president of the republic and to the country's different authorities, as well as to all those who have cooperated in the success of this event.

Above all I wish to thank from my heart the Catholics and the whole Polish people, as I have felt their embrace full of human and spiritual warmth. Many of you have seen it on television. It was a true expression of catholicity, of love of the Church, which is expressed in love for the Successor of Peter.

After the arrival at Warsaw airport, the place of my first appointment reserved for priests was the cathedral of that important city on the day that the 50th anniversary was being celebrated of the priestly ordination of Cardinal Jozef Glemp, pastor of that archdiocese. In this way, my pilgrimage began with the sign of the priesthood and it continued later with the ecumenical solicitude witnessed in the Lutheran Church of the Most Holy Trinity.

On that occasion, together with the representatives of the different churches and ecclesial communities that live in Poland, I confirmed the firm decision to consider the commitment for the reconstruction of full and visible unity among Christians as an authentic priority of my ministry.

Then there was the solemn Eucharistic celebration in Pilsudski Square, full of people, in the center of Warsaw. This place, in which we solemnly celebrated the Eucharist with joy, had a symbolic value, as it had hosted historical events such as the holy Masses celebrated by John Paul II and the funeral of the Cardinal Primate Stefan Wyszynski, as well as some of the large celebrations for the repose of his soul in the days after the death of my venerated predecessor.

The program could not but include a visit to the shrines that marked the life of Karol Wojtyla as priest and bishop, above all three: that of Czestochowa, of Kalwaria Zebrzidowska and of Divine Mercy. I will not be able to forget the visit to the famous Marian shrine of Jasna Gora. On that Clear Mountain, heart of the Polish nation, as if it were a cenacle, very many faithful, especially men and women religious, seminarians and representatives of the ecclesial movements, gathered around the Successor of Peter to listen with me to Mary.

Inspired by the wonderful Marian meditation that John Paul II gave the Church in the encyclical "Redemptoris Mater," I wished to propose the faith again as a fundamental attitude of the spirit, which is not something merely intellectual or sentimental. Authentic faith involves the whole person: his thoughts, affections, intentions, relationships, corporeal nature, activity and daily work.

Later visiting the wonderful shrine of Kalwaria Zebrzydowska, near Krakow, I prayed to Our Lady of Sorrows to support the faith of the ecclesial community in moments of difficulty and trial; the successive stage at the Shrine of Divine Mercy in Lagiewniki, allowed me to emphasize that only Divine Mercy illuminates the mystery of man. In the convent near this shrine, on contemplating the luminous wounds of the risen Christ, Sister Faustina Kowalska received a message of confidence for humanity, the message of Divine Mercy, which John Paul II echoed and of which he became the interpreter. It is a really central message for our time: Mercy as the force of God, as the divine limit against the evil of the world.

I wished to visit other symbolic "shrines": I am referring to Wadowice, the locality which has become famous because Karol Wojtyla was born and was baptized there. The visit gave me the opportunity to thank the Lord for the gift of this tireless servant of the Gospel. The roots of his strong faith, of his very sensitive and open humanity, of his love of beauty and truth, of his devotion to the Virgin, of his love of the Church and above all of his vocation to holiness are found in this small city in which he received his early education and formation. Another place loved by John Paul II is Wawel Cathedral in Krakow, a symbolic place for the Polish nation: Karol Wojtyla celebrated his first Mass in the crypt of that cathedral.

Another very beautiful experience was the meeting with young people, which took place in Krakow, in the great Blonie Park. I handed symbolically to the numerous young people the "Flame of Mercy" so that they will be heralds of ...

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