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On the Pope's Upcoming Trip to Poland
Interview With Bishop Ncyz

ZENIT News Agency

The World Seen From Rome
Date: 2006-02-28

ROME, FEB. 28, 2006 Benedict XVI's visit to Poland this May could serve to make clear his interest in reviving Europe's Christian heritage, says a bishop.

Bishop Kazimierz Nycz of Koszalin-Kolobrzeg, who helped to organize several of Pope John Paul II's trips to Poland, offered that insight on the upcoming papal trip.

Bishop Nycz, 56, shared with ZENIT how Benedict XVI will follow in the steps of his predecessor and strive to encourage Poles to be resolute in their service to the Church.

Q: Your Excellency, why was the phrase "Be strong in the Faith" chosen as the theme of the papal visit to Poland?

Bishop Nycz: I think that the Holy Father, in general, often speaks about faith as the most important challenge to man and the Church. In regards to the Church and her mission, especially in Europe, without a return to the foundation of faith, all else would be of little significance.

The original tone of the theme expresses a wish directed to the Church in Poland. Ultimately, the theme "Be strong in the Faith" undoubtedly refers to the pilgrimages of John Paul II.

Q: What significance does the Pope's meeting in Warsaw with representatives of other Christian religions have?

Bishop Nycz: There is also a tentatively planned second ecumenical meeting with Jewish leaders at Auschwitz-Birkenau. Taken together, both witness to the great importance the Pope attaches to ecumenism and interreligious meetings.

Ecumenism teaches us many positive things, and the meeting at Auschwitz-Birkenau, if it happens, will have great importance for the entire world.

Q: Do you think that the long pontificate of John Paul II caused the younger generation of Poles to identify the person of the Pope as Polish? How are Polish youth reacting to the new Pope, and what significance does the Holy Father's meeting with the youth in Lagiewniki, site of the Divine Mercy Shrine, have?

Bishop Nycz: I think that the reaction of Poles and the rest of the younger generation to the election of the new Pope does not confirm the fear of a dangerous identification of the papacy with Polishness.

As a nation we have demonstrated our faith in the office of Peter. The acceptance of Benedict XVI as the successor of John Paul II gives witness to this, and the meeting with youth in Lagiewniki will be further proof that the Polish youth love the Pope from Germany.

Q: How would Your Excellency characterize the central challenges to the Church in Poland after the death of John Paul II? What effects may the pilgrimage of Benedict XVI have in this context?

Bishop Nycz: I would say the main challenge can be related in the following words from the pontificate of John Paul II: testament, memory, thankfulness, faithfulness to an inheritance.

All the while this is joined to the most important challenge: a continuing faithfulness to God and mankind under the guidance of the new Pope.

I am deeply convinced that the awaited pilgrimage of Benedict XVI will help us to better understand that we were walking behind Pope John Paul II, not because he was a Pole, but because he spoke convincingly and left his own program of action for us.

We were behind him because he was leading us to Christ and teaching us how to be and love the Church.

The Church always needs guidance like this; and the Holy Father, Benedict XVI, guides us while knowing the problems of the contemporary world and rooting his theology in God, who is Charity.