Poland welcomes Pope Benedict

 Pope Benedict XVI was given a warm welcome on the first day of his visit to Poland yesterday. Polish President Lech Kaczynski and Cardinal Jozef Glemp were among the dignitaries who greeted the Holy Father at Warsaw airport. Reading the first few sentences of his address in Polish - an aide continued to translate to Polish fron Italian - the Holy Father called the Holocaust a result of the "tragic tyranny" of Nazism. He said that at Auschwitz on Sunday he hoped to pray with survivors "that the wounds of the past century will heal," particularly through efforts to request and grant forgiveness. While Pope John Paul's memory would be present at almost every stop on the itinerary, Pope Benedict said his trip is not simply a "sentimental journey, although it is certainly that, too." He said he wanted to make a "journey of faith," helping Poles solidify their commitment to living the faith and being strengthened in turn by the expressions of faith Poles would share with him. In his address, Polish President Lech Kaczynski said that "as a president and as a Catholic" he was very happy to welcome the Pope. "We count on your leading us in the paths set out by John Paul II," President Kaczynski said. After leaving the airport, the Pope made the ten kilometre journey by popemobile to St John's Cathedral, driving along streets festooned with flags and lined with cheering crowds. At the Cathedral, the Pope met around 1,000 representatives of the Polish clergy and emphasised that the task of strengthening the faith of Polish Catholics rested largely on their shoulders. "Believe in the power of your priesthood," he told them. Paying tribute tribute to the often-heroic endurance of Polish priests and Poles in general during the Nazi occupation and under communism, he said: "Let us remember with appreciation and gratitude those who did not let themselves be overwhelmed by the forces of darkness, and let us learn from them the courage to be consistent and constant in our adherence to the Gospel. Christ needs priests who are mature, virile, capable of cultivating an authentic spiritual paternity." Today, more than one million people are expected to attend Mass celebrated by Pope Benedict in Pilsudski Square.

Share this story