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Pope in Poland: do not be afraid!

16 sierpnia 2002 | 22:50 | Ⓒ Ⓟ

Do not be afraid! Trust God!, appealed the Pope on the first day of his pilgrimage to Poland. The Pope astonished the crowds gathered to greet him with his good health and a sense of humour.

Immediatelly the Alitalia plane touched down the tarmac, fifteen thousand faithful began to sing “Cracow welcomes you, Cracow loves you.” When at twenty to seven p.m. the Holy Father appeared in the door of his plane, his gestures of greeting were answered by a highlanders’ band with a well-recognisable song “Życzymy, życzymy”.
The Pope, in spite of the lift prepared for the occasion, descended the stairs with a steady gait and kissed children in traditional Cracow dress. He greeted Mr. Aleksander Kwaśniewski, President of the Republic of Poland and his wife, Cardinal Primate Józef Glemp and other officials. Approaching the place of the welcome ceremony, he greeted the faithful with a gesture of the hand and listened to the first, unofficial words of Mr. President. He was evidently touched to hear the words of the Polish national anthem.
“This visit is for us, Poles, a true holy day and a great spiritual experience,” stressed the President while the welcoming address. He also noted the universal dimension of the Pope’s message. “All Poles, he said, believers and those who do not believe, young and old, are impressed by the words and deeds of John Paul II.” He also assured the Pope that a vast majority of Poles have understood that democracy and religion supplement each other.
“What has been inconceiveable has become reality: the Holy Father is here, is here with us”, spoke enthusiastically the host of the Archdiocese of Cracow, Cardinal Franciszek Macharski. He reminded the listeners that nearly a quarter of a century has elapsed since the Pope’s first pilgrimage which finished in Cracow.
“The last station proved to be the first, as it were, on our road to our freedom, to the freedom of Europe and the world”, said the Metropolitan Archbishop of Cracow, referring to the question posed then by the Pope: “Can we say ‘no’ to what we have been living on for a millennium?” He also stressed that the Church in Poland is experiencing the achievements and trials of the entire world. That is why the message of God who is rich in Mercy is so much needed. “Humanity will never reach peace unless it turns with trust towards the Merciful God”, said the Cardinal, asking the Pope that he pass on this wisdom to Poland and the world.
John Paul II referred to the difficult situation of extended families, the jobless, and those who bear the greatest burden of reforms. “To them and to all my fellow countrymen I bring today the message of hope that springs from the Good News: God, rich in mercy, daily reveals his love in Christ. It is he, the Risen Christ, who says to each and every one of you: ‘Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one; I died, and behold I am alive for evermore’ (Rev 1:17-18). This is the message of the Divine Mercy that I bring today to the nation and to my countrymen: ‘Fear not!’ Trust in God who is rich in mercy. Christ is with you, the unfailing Giver of hope.” This message was enthusiastically received by the faithful.
“The President is standing, the Cardinal is standing, and I am seated. I apologise profusely, but they have erected here a barrier (the Pope gestured to the pulpit in front of him) that does not allow me to stand up!”
This was also the spirit of the Pope’s meeting with the crowds gathered on Franciszkańska in front of the legendary window. Appearing there at 9.30 p.m., he asked the crowds “Have you been to Toronto?”, to which he got mixed “yes” and “no” answers. He quickly added, “I was there!”
To the cries “Welcome home!”, the Pope responded immediately, “If somebody asked you, it is Franciszkańska 3”, which contributed to an even greater uproar and cries “We love you!” After a moment the Holy Father spoke again, “I may tell you some more about Toronto tomorrow”, and the youth chanted “We will be here again, we will be here again”.
“For the time being I wish you a good night! Good night and see you! That’s right!” This hint at another meeting provoked a natural, loud reaction on the part of the crowd: “We love you! Bless us!”
The four-thousand crowd responded in unison to the farewell words “Praised be Lord Jesus Christ” with “For ever and ever. Amen!!!” With the words “See you tomorrow!” the Pope receded into the interior of the Palace. Still, many moments after he disappeared from sight, the faithful repeatedly shouted “Thank you!”

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