Krakow (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis spoke about the murder of Fr Jacques Hamel, the priest killed in Saint Etienne du Rouvray, on the plane taking him to Krakow for the 31st World Youth Day, where he was set to arrive at 4 pm (local time).
“The world is at war,” said the pontiff, “a war for real,” one “about (economic) interests, money, natural resources and the domination of peoples." However, this “is not a war of religions” because “All religions,” he said, "desire peace.” It is “Other people [who] want war."
"The word that is repeated so often is security, but the real word is war. The world is at war, a piecemeal war,” Francis explained. "There was one in 1914, then that from 1939 to 1945. In the world now there's this. Perhaps it is not so organic, so organised, but it is war. This holy priest, who died at the very moment in which he offered the prayer for peace, he is but one. Yet how many Christians, how many innocent people, how many children [have died] . . . Think of Nigeria, for example. We say: but that is Africa! It's war. We are not afraid to tell this truth, the world is at war because it has lost the peace," and, he added after landing in Krakow, “we must encourage international collaborations and synergies in order to find solutions to conflicts and wars."
Francis also spoke the young people at the WYD. "The youth always tells us about hope. Let us hope that young people can tell us something that is a bit more hopeful this time.”
When he arrived at John Paul II International Airport Kraków–Balice, the pope was welcomed by Polish President Andrzej Duda and the Archbishop of Krakow, Card Stanisław Dziwisz, who served as John Paul II’s personal secretary.
Right after the arrival and the welcome ceremony, Pope Francis went to Wawel Castle (pictured), the historic fortress overlooking Krakow. In the courtyard, he met the authorities, representatives of civil society and members of the diplomatic corps accredited to Poland. He paid a courtesy visit to the Polish President in the Bird Room, and finally, went to the Cathedral of Saints Stanislaus and Wenceslaus where he met the bishops.
In the only public address today, in the courtyard of Wawel Castle, Francis said “we need to be willing to accommodate those fleeing from wars and hunger" and show "solidarity to those who are deprived of their fundamental rights, including that of professing their faith in freedom and security. "
In this first speech since his afternoon arrival in Poland, in Krakow, where tomorrow he will join the 31st World Youth Day, Pope Francis told the country’s authorities that they must meet the challenges of the time with "the courage of truth and a constant ethical commitment" so that human dignity is always respected, which is a principle that touches every human activity, including "managing the complex issue of migration.”
"This requires a supplement of wisdom and mercy to overcome fears and achieve the greatest good. One needs to identify the causes of emigration from Poland, helping those who wish to return. At the same time, one must be willing to accept those fleeing from wars and hunger,” and show “solidarity to those who are deprived of their fundamental rights, including the right to profess freely and safely their faith. Likewise, we must encourage international collaborations and synergies in order to find solutions to the conflicts and wars that force many people to leave their home and homeland. It is a question of doing everything possible to alleviate their sufferings, without tiring to work with intelligence and continuity for justice and peace, factually bearing witness to human and Christian values."
In his address, the pope also noted that " awareness of identity, free from any superiority complex, is essential to organise a national community on the basis of its human, social, political, economic and religious heritage, to inspire society and culture, and keep them faithful to tradition and at the same time open to renewal and the future. From this perspective, we recently celebrated the 1,050th anniversary of the Baptism of Poland. This was certainly a high point of national unity, which confirms how concord, despite a diversity of opinions, is the sure way to achieve the common good of the entire Polish people.”
"Even the fruitful cooperation at international level and mutual consideration ripen through conscience and respect for one’s own identity and that of others. There can be no dialogue if everyone does not start from their own identity. In the daily life of every individual, as in that of every society, there are, however, two types of memory: the good and the bad, the positive and the negative. The good memory is what the Bible shows us in the Magnificat, the Canticle of Mary, that praises the Lord and his salvational work. The negative memory is instead the one that focuses the mind and the heart obsessively on evil, first of all on the one committed by others.
“Looking at your recent history, I thank God because you have been able to favour the good memory; celebrating for example 50 years of mutual forgiveness, offered and received, between the Polish and German Bishops' Conferences, after the Second World War. The initiative, which initially involved the Church communities, also triggered an irreversible social, political, cultural and religious process, changing the history of the relations between the two peoples.
“In this regard, le us remember the Joint Declaration between the Catholic Church in Poland and the Orthodox Church in Moscow. This deed started a process of rapprochement and brotherhood not only between the two Churches, but also between the two peoples. Thus, the noble Polish nation shows how one can develop the good memory and drop the bad one. For this reason, one requires a firm hope and trust in the One who guides the destinies of peoples, opens closed doors, turns difficulties into opportunities, and creates new scenarios for things that once seemed impossible."
Last event in Pope Francis’s first day in Krakow will be a meeting with 130 Polish Bishops, as an informal exchange. After this, the Holy Father will travel by car to the Archbishop’s Residence, where he will reside for the next few days.