Polish pilgrims in Rio de Janeiro cheer as Pope Francis announces that World Youth Day 2016 will take place in Krakow, Poland. The pope made the announcement at the conclusion of the closing Mass of World Youth Day on Copacabana beach July 28. (CNS photo /Paul Haring)
is with great joy that I received the message announced today by Pope
Francis that the next World Youth Day will take place in Poland in
the year 2016," said Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz the Archbishop
press release posted on the Vatican Radio site, the former
personal secretary to Pope John Paul II, explained "Together
with the whole Church in Poland, I rejoice that the Holy Father has
accepted the invitation addressed to him by the highest authorities
of the Republic of Poland and by the Polish Episcopate. In this, he
has responded to the desires of so many young people who have long
wished to celebrate their faith in the country and the city of Karol
Wojtyla, who set off for the Eternal City from Krakow in October
1978, and who, as John Paul II, Bishop of Rome, instituted World
will be the second WYD to be hosted in Poland. The first was in 1991
in the city of Czestochowa, home of the Shrine of Our Lady of
Czestochowa, also known as the Black Madonna.
Dziwisz also noted that 2016 will be the 1050th anniversary of the
Christianization of Poland, which dates back to 966 with the baptism
of the Polish ruler Mieszko I.
Maciej Zieba, the former head of the Dominicans and a popular author
and commentator, offered his own thoughts about what Pope Francis's
visit will mean for the predominantly Catholic country. "The
pope's visit will provide an opportunity to unify Polish Catholics by
dispelling a number of ideological tendencies that have divided the
faithful. It will reinforce the central, non-ideological position of
the Polish Church."
Fr. Zieba explained, "it will provide creative opportunities to
consider the heritage of John Paul II, while also helping the younger
generation to find their place within the Church through evangelical
(not ideological) and rational (not aggressive) responses to the
increasing waves of aggressive and ideological secularization."
for what Poland can offer to international pilgrims, organization is
high on the list. "The first really large and truly
international WYD was in 1991 in Czestochowa. Krakow hosted John Paul
II seven times and Benedict XVI once. Since 1989, Poland has also
hosted four large international ecumenical youth meetings organized
by the Taize community," Fr. Zieba added. "WYD also offers
the possibility of evangelizing Eastern European countries to the
east, Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, but also Czech Republic, Germany,
Fr. Zieba explained that pilgrims will have the opportunity to "meet
with the great heritage of St. John Paul II, especially in Krakow's
new John Paul II Centre, 'Do not be afraid,' as well as a new museum
in Wadowice [Wojtyla's birthplace]. There are also the painful
reminders of the 20th century, such as Auschwitz and the Schindler’s
Factory Museum in Krakow."
Sewerynik, a young Polish lawyer who traveled to Rome for WYD 2000,
explained to CWR what the choice of Krakow for the next WYD means for
Poland. "I think that it is a chance for Poland to rethink our
faith, it is a chance for national recollection. Especially today,
when the Church here is widely criticized for its objections towards
in vitro, homosexual partnerships and alleged participation in
political life, WYD is a chance to look at our faith and at Jesus
from a different angle."
think that pilgrims from all over the world will be pleased with
Polish hospitability, and Poles will be surprised to see those people
admiration of Polish virtues - Polish religiousness, which we often
see as passé,"
would be my hope," said Fr. Jacek Buda, a Polish Dominican,
"that WYD 2016 in Krakow will help Poland and maybe the whole
world plunge one more time into the never-changing newness of the
life of God."