04/25/2014, 00.00
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Pope John Paul II "helped believers throughout the world not to be afraid to call themselves Christian"

In a video message broadcast on Polish TV, Francis expresses the gratitude of the people of God for the Polish Pope "for his tireless service, his spiritual leadership, for having introduced the Church into the third millennium of faith and for his extraordinary testimony of holiness".

Vatican City (AsiaNews)-Pope Francis, together with "all members of the People of God" is "grateful to John Paul II for his tireless service, his spiritual leadership, for having introduced the Church into the third millennium of faith and his extraordinary testimony of holiness". These were the words of the Argentinean Pope in a video message broadcast yesterday by the Polish radio and television, ahead of the canonization of April 27, in which he thanked Poland for the gift of John Paul II, "a great man and a great Pope".

Francis stressed the Polish Pope's "extraordinary witness of holiness" and recalled what Benedict XVI said on the day of his Beatification, three years ago. John Paul II asked everyone " not to be afraid and to open wide the doors to Christ", which he "did first". "He opened himself, society, culture, political and economic systems to Christ, reversing with the strength of a titan - a strength that came to him from God - a trend that had seemed irreversible".

"Through his witness of faith, love and apostolic courage, accompanied by great human charisma, this exemplary son of the Polish nation has helped Christians around the world not to be afraid to call themselves Christian, to belong to the Church, to share the Gospel. In a word: he helped us not to fear the truth, because the truth is the guarantee of freedom' (Homily, May 1, 2011). I identify fully with these words".

Pope Francis then recalled that "Karol Wojtyla grew up in the service of Christ and of the Church in his native Poland". There "his own heart was formed, a heart that opened up to a universal dimension, first taking part in the Second Vatican Council, and especially after October 16 , 1978, so that all the nations, languages ​​and cultures of the world would find a place in it".

"John Paul II became everything to everyone. I thank the Polish people and the Church in Poland for the gift of John Paul II. We all have been enriched by this gift. Pope John Paul II continues to inspire us. His words, the his writings, his gestures , his style of service inspire us. His heroic suffering lived with hope inspires us. His total trust in Christ, the Redeemer of man, and the Mother of God inspire us".

During the recent ad limina visit of the Polish bishops, the Pope added, "I pointed out that the Church in Poland continues to have great potential for faith, prayer, charity and Christian practice". "The canonization of John Paul II, and also of John XXIII, give a new impetus to the everyday and persevering work of the Church" in Poland, where the World Youth Day will take place in two years time in Krakow.

Francis message concluded with thanks to journalists for the work they will undertake next Sunday.


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