sponse was patchy, there was no rebuff. John Paul played for high stakes. He has -- modestly but implicitly -- made himself a spokesman (the right word) for all the world religions. His words shaped the meaning of this event.
Here they are: "While we have walked in silence, we have reflected on the path our human family treads: either in hostility, if we fail to accept one another in love or as a common journey to our lofty destiny, if we realize that other peoples are our brothers and sisters. . . . Either we learn to walk together in peace and harmony, or we drift apart and ruin ourselves and others."
( June 19, 1987) Pope John Paul II is a different man in Poland. He is at home. There are no apparent ecclesiastical problems. He knows the language and just how far he can go. He can make a point with an allusion, a quotation, even a raised eyebrow.
So a visit to Poland is like a stately pageant in which memories are unfurled and Polish identity is reaffirmed. On his last visit in 1982, he asked a little girl, "Where is Poland?" She didn't know how to reply. He gently put his hand on her heart and said, "There is Poland."
At the same time, each trip to Poland has its own special emphasis. The first, in 1979, was a celebration of his surprise election to the papacy. Along with most Poles, he believed this to be a providential compensation for the terrible sufferings of Polish history.
In 1982, he came to comfort a nation dismayed by the imposition of martial law and the shattering of the hope that was Solidarity.
The 1987 agenda is different, and it seems to have been agreed on between John Paul and Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski at their meeting in the Vatican Jan. 13 this year. The message is that church-state relations have reached an unprecedented new stage of friendliness.
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Book title: Pope John Paul II and the Church. Contributors: Peter Hebblethwaite - Author. Publisher: Sheed & Ward. Place of publication: Kansas City, MO. Publication year: 1995. Page number: 155.
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