Karol Wojtyla to Poland - John Paul II to the World

Data publikacji: czwartek, 14 wrzesień 2023
From the beginning of his pontificate, John Paul II opposed the notion that the world must be permanently divided ideologically. An expression of his efforts in this context was also his Second Pilgrimage to Poland.

Man is called to victory!
John Paul II, Homily during Mass
at the 10th-Anniversary Stadium, Warsaw 17.06.1983

Its impact can be summarised in several dimensions:
- the papal teaching inspired Poles with hope for a change in their situation and sustained opposition to the communist dictatorship;
- it strengthened the Polish community and its solidarity character;
- It emphasised the reality of Poland's presence among the nations of Europe;
- It made the communist authorities aware of the strength of the Church as a partner for dialogue;
- the Pope's opposition to the outlawing of Solidarity reinforced Poles' expectations and actions.

John Paul II's second pilgrimage to his homeland from 16 to 23 June 1983 came at a difficult time for Poles, depressed by the martial law introduced a year and a half earlier by General Wojciech Jaruzelski and the outlawing of Solidarity. Although martial law was suspended for the duration of the papal visit, several hundred trade union activists were still in prison. The opposition expressed fears that the communist authorities would use the pilgrimage for political purposes, seeing it as a manifestation of the normalisation of social life. However, from the very first day of his stay in Poland, John Paul II made it clear that the Church did not accept the outlawing of Solidarity and did not cease to trust that the social contract contained in the August Agreements of 1980 would be restored. In his first homily in Warsaw Cathedral, the Pope alone expressed solidarity with his compatriots "who most painfully feel the astringent taste of disappointment, humiliation, suffering, deprivation of freedom, injustice, trampled human freedom". It was only thanks to John Paul II's persistence that his clandestine meeting with the chairman of the outlawed Solidarity movement, Lech Wałęsa, took place.
In his teaching, the Pope emphasised the Christian's vocation to victory and the right of his homeland to a sovereign existence. He showed Poles three patriots as role models, whom he beatified during his pilgrimage: Mother Ursula Ledóchowska and the January insurgents Brother Albert Chmielowski and Father Rafał Kalinowski. With that pilgrimage, John Paul II gave Poles the spirit and hope to regain their longed-for freedom. One of the foreign observers of the pilgrimage, the later French Foreign Minister Jean-Bernard Raimond, saw the Pope "walking through Poland during the times of martial law and dismantling, systematically and calmly, sermon after sermon, the Jaruzelski system in the very heart of the Soviet empire."