Pope urges Poles to value their memories, but be open to change

IMAGE: CNS/Paul Haring

By Junno Arocho Esteves

KRAKOW, Poland
(CNS) — Poland’s memory and identity are the two catalysts that will lead the
country forward and turn hopeless situations — such as those facing migrants
— into opportunities for future generations, Pope Francis said.

Cloudy
skies and a light drizzle did little to dampen the spirits of pilgrims
cheering loudly as the pope’s plane landed in Krakow July 27. The arrival
ceremony at Krakow’s John Paul II International Airport was marked by the
presence of hundreds of Polish men and women, dressed in traditional clothes
and dancing.

Stepping
down from his plane and before he departed for Wawel Castle, Pope Francis was
greeted by Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz of Krakow, Polish President Andrzej Duda
and first lady Agata Kornhauser-Duda.

Addressing
civil authorities and members of the country’s diplomatic corps, the pope noted
that “memory is the hallmark of the Polish people;” a notable characteristic
of his predecessor, St. John Paul II.

He said
being aware of identity was “indispensable for establishing a national
community on the foundation of its human, social, political, economic and
religious heritage,” but that people must remain open to renewal and to
change. He added that while good memory can remind society of God and his
saving work, bad memory keeps the mind and heart “obsessively fixed on
evil, especially the wrongs committed by others,” he said.

Pope
Francis called on the people of Poland to hold on to their positive memories so
they can look to the future with hope in respecting human dignity, economical
and environmental concerns and “the complex phenomenon of migration.”

The
issue of migration, he added, “calls for great wisdom and compassion, in
order to overcome fear and to achieve the greater good.”

“Also
needed is a spirit of readiness to welcome those fleeing from wars and hunger,
and solidarity with those deprived of their fundamental rights, including the
right to profess one’s faith in freedom and safety,” he said.

Pope
Francis, who has brought attention to the plight of migrants in the past, met
with 15 young refugees prior to his departure to Krakow. The Vatican press
office said the young refugees are currently in Italy without documents that
will allow them to travel out of the country.

“The
youths, accompanied by the papal almoner, wished the pope a good journey and a
happy participation at WYD, to which they cannot participate but are united
spiritually,” the Vatican said.

Inviting
Polish people to “look with hope to the future,” the pope said the
memory of their thousand-year history would create a climate of respect that
fosters a better life for future generations.

“The
young should not simply have to deal with problems, but rather be able to enjoy
the beauty of creation, the benefits we can provide and the hope we can offer,”
he said.

Social
policies, he added, must also support families who are “the primary and
fundamental cell of society” as well as “helping responsibly to
welcome life” so that children may be seen as a gift and not a burden.

“Life
must always be welcome and protected. These two things go together, welcome and
protection, from conception to natural death. All of us are called to respect
life and care for it.”

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Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.

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Original Article