By Paweł Rytel-Andrianik

Twenty-seven years of Pope John Paul II’s pontificate has had crucial significance for the Church and the world, in the context of his teaching, as well as in the context of the social impact – Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki, President of the Polish Bishops’ Conference and Vice-President of the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences (CCEE), wrote in a letter addressed to the presidents of the Episcopates of the world asking for support for the initiative of proclaiming St. John Paul II a doctor of the Church. Furthermore, Archbishop Gądecki asked the Presidents of the Episcopates of Europe to support the initiative to proclaim the Polish Pope a co-patron of Europe.

In 2019, the President of the Polish Episcopate turned on behalf of the Church, which is in Poland, on behalf of the faithful and pastors, to Pope Francis with a request to proclaim St. John Paul II, a Doctor of the Church and a Co-patron of Europe.

The President of the Polish Episcopate stressed in a letter to the presidents of the Episcopates of the world that in recent times no one has done as much for Europe as John Paul II did. Archbishop Gądecki noticed that to some extent the Polish Pope restored to Europe its forgotten part from behind the “iron curtain”. “Fifty years of Soviet domination in Central and Eastern Europe caused that until recently, in the mentality of many people, Europe has consisted only of Germany, France, Great Britain, Italy, and Scandinavian countries. We can say that John Paul II “took half of Europe out of nonexistence” – a great and wonderful heritage, with the same cultural roots, Christian roots” – the letter reads.

The President of the Polish Bishops’ Conference remarked that John Paul II constantly reminded European nations of their roots, i.e. Roman law, Greek philosophy, and Judeo-Christian axiology. “The Polish Pope knew that the current cultural crisis is a powerful historical call for a wise return to common historical heritage, that is Christianity. In this regard, St. John Paul II became a true teacher and doctor of the Church, and within it an important guardian of European values which constitute the irremovable foundation of modern civilization” – he underlined.

Archbishop Gądecki noticed that Karol Wojtyła’s spiritual and intellectual world is characterized by a skillful reconciliation of tradition and novelty. “The heritage of Pope Wojtyła is a rich, multilateral and creative synthesis of many human ways of thinking, but based on Revelation and faithful to the deposit of faith. The thought of John Paul II is in fact thoroughly modern, original and creative while remaining noble classic. This Wojtyła’s balancing, a difficult one, between tradition and modernity, has brought a lot of freshness in the life of the Church, and through it in universal spaces of widely understood culture, politics, and science” –the letter reads.

In conclusion of the letter, the President of the Polish Bishops’ Conference invited everyone to a solemn Eucharist at St. Peter’s Square in Rome, on the eve of St. John Paul II’s birthday, May 17, 2020, celebrated by Pope Francis. He encouraged also the faithful to come as pilgrims in order to participate in this great thanksgiving for life and service of the Polish Pope.

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