Rejuvenation of the Polish Church
An interview with Bishop Damian Muskus.
Marcin Makowski, Do Rzeczy: Do you expect Pope Francis to touch on social issues? The issue of refugees plays a prominent role in his teachings, however in Poland it is a delicate topic.
Bishop Damian Muskus: The Pope’s social sensitivity is one of the defining characteristics of his papacy, therefore one can expect that in Poland as well he will speak out in defence of the poor, the persecuted, the ostracized and the victims of conflict and injustice. Regarding the issue of refugees, the Polish Church has a very clear position, which is unfortunately often misunderstood by the faithful. One can therefore count on this voice, strengthened by the Pope’s authority, to break through the wall of doubts, ambivalence and prejudice. However, please remember that Polish society faces numerous problems that are a result of the growing gap between those well placed in life and those who are faced with a daily struggle to survive day. There are among us many people who seek to escape their difficult predicament: broken families, children who grow in ambivalent, cold families, youth who do not have a chance to get a good start in life, old people who have been forgotten, as well as lonely and sick people. The list goes on. I hope the Pope will mention these people as well.
What message should be sent out to the world as a result of World Youth Day? With what idea in their hearts should young people return to their homes?
The source of this idea beats in Krakow’s Lagiewniki. “Everything will take place under the sign of God’s mercy,” Pope Francis said recently in a message made in the lead up to the WYD event. The world needs hope, and its most pure embodiment come in the words: “Jesus, we trust you!”. It is in God’s mercy that we can find salvation for humanity, for each one of us. It is His unending love that saves humanity from desperation and fear. In Krakow young people will be met with God’s mercy. They will experience it in personal prayer facing a beautiful picture of Jesus in the Lagniewniki sanctuary, in the sacrament.
Why is it that so many people in their 20s and 30s are leaving the Church today?
This question needs to be posed to those that are leaving. However, I don’t get the impression that this is happening on a large-scale. Preparations for World Youth Day all over Poland showed that there are actually a lot of young people who feel closely connected to the Church. It has been predominantly young people who have come together in their parishes, mobilizing their priests, teachers and parents, infecting them with their enthusiasm and joy, bringing about a rejuvenation of the Polish Church. This constitutes an enormous potential that cannot be wasted.
Where do you currently see the heart and future of Christianity – in South America, Africa? Can events such as World Youth Day help prevent the secularization of Europe?
The heart and future of Christianity is within us. One can of course analyse where the Church is undergoing a rejuvenation and where it is facing difficulties and crises. The Church community in Poland consists of you, me, as well as our friends and families and its condition depends on the state of our faith, it is an embodiment of our desires, fears, values, that we seek in life. World Youth Day is a meeting of the active Church, a sign of its modernity, because alongside the Pope, bishops and priests the event attracts young people from all corners of the world, representing diverse cultures, traditions and races – all united around Jesus. This is a blessed time for every believer. Therefore I can say that every event such as WYD helps strengthen faith, adding strength and transforming people’s hearts. At the same time, it is also a stage, upon which one needs to continue further, decisively, with new hope and enthusiasm. World Youth Day does not change the world with a touch of a magic wand, but it can create an impulse for change.
What can be done to make sure that World Youth Day is not a one-off event that does not leave much behind? How can one preserve this atmosphere for longer and help it bear fruit?
One needs to be able to distinguish between fleeting but beautiful emotions associated with the event from deeper realisations within us that they create and which mean a lot to us. If each one of us hears one word that really speaks to us, and stays with us, then this will be the beginning of a transformation and the first fruit to be born by World Youth Day.
Source: Do Rzeczy