On the Pope's Upcoming Trip
Interview With Bishop Ncyz
ZENIT News Agency
The World Seen From Rome
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
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
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.