Pope John Paul II and the Church

By Peter Hebblethwaite | Go to book overview

The pope also told them their quest for normalization of relations with the state must be "clear principle, a . . . source of moral strengths that also serve the purpose of true normalization."

His speech to the Polish episcopate also underlined the essential unity of the European countries despite their differing political and economic systems. The pope said Christianity, the church itself, had an important role in this work. It was a clear directive to Western European churches to express their interest in what goes on here. Europe's "spiritual genealogy" demands, the pope said, "that the church work for its fundamental unity."

Despite this European dimension, the pope repeatedly made clear that he came here to fortify not only the imprisoned church in Poland but also the Christians in other European countries.

One evening, speaking to Czestochowa crowds, he noted a sign that said in German: " Magdeburg, Germany, greets the Holy Father." And he replied: "The Holy Father greets Magdeburg."

He went on to ask: "Is there anyone here from Czechoslovakia?" There were cheers. "From Hungary?" Cheers. "From the East?" Cheers.

Scanning the pope's speeches and watching his tour through Polish towns decorated with flags and streamers, and through streets lined with people, it was clear this historic event would take time to digest. The speeches will have to be read and reread, and the Christians in this part of the world will have to be watched.

As the pope himself said at Gniezno, "This pope has come to this place to bear witness to Christ, the lives and the souls of this nation that once chose him as their own, the way, the truth, and life itself. And thus the pope has come to speak of these often forgotten people and nations to the whole, to Europe and to the world."


5
U.N. talk: Muted tone

( October 12, 1979) In the curiously fishbowl world of the U.N. building, the sounds of the outside world are screened out and you need roller skates to get around efficiently. It is an atmosphere in

-19-

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