News / Europe

Could John Paul II Sainthood Stem Polish Secularization?

Could John Paul II Sainthood Stem Polish Secularization?i
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 25, 2014 10:32 PM
On Sunday, the late Pope John Paul II will be canonized in a ceremony at the Vatican along with an earlier pope, John XXIII. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports from Krakow, Poland, on the excitement among Polish Catholics and the hope that the new Polish saint will help the prevent the country from following a Western European-style path toward secularization.

Could John Paul II Sainthood Stem Polish Secularization?

A few drops of the late Pope John Paul II's blood inspired passionate devotion from his followers, who lined up this week to kiss a golden reliquary containing it at the John Paul II Sanctuary.
 
The cathedral-like shrine, built on the outskirts of Krakow after his death in 2005, is hosting a week of prayer services and vigils leading up to the canonization of the Polish pope on Sunday at the Vatican.
 
The first day's event prominently featured the Knights of John Paul II, who presided over the blood-kissing ceremony.

"We have a chance to touch some part of the sanctity," explained Krzysztof Wasowski, the leader of the order, which is only open to men who are not divorced and live by the tenets of the religion.
 
John Paul II will be canonized in a ceremony at the Vatican along with a previous pope, John XXIII.  But the latter is hardly mentioned in Poland, where there is intense excitement among Catholics.  Their leaders hope the new Polish saint will help prevent the country from following a Western European-style path of secularization.
 
Archbishop of Kraków, and former John Paul II's secretary Stanislaw Dziwisz (r) kisses the coffin of late Pope John Paul II ahead of the beatification ceremony, April 29, 2011 (Jerome Socolovsky /VOA)Archbishop of Kraków, and former John Paul II's secretary Stanislaw Dziwisz (r) kisses the coffin of late Pope John Paul II ahead of the beatification ceremony, April 29, 2011 (Jerome Socolovsky /VOA)
x
Archbishop of Kraków, and former John Paul II's secretary Stanislaw Dziwisz (r) kisses the coffin of late Pope John Paul II ahead of the beatification ceremony, April 29, 2011 (Jerome Socolovsky /VOA)
Archbishop of Kraków, and former John Paul II's secretary Stanislaw Dziwisz (r) kisses the coffin of late Pope John Paul II ahead of the beatification ceremony, April 29, 2011 (Jerome Socolovsky /VOA)
Also at the first Mass, a remembrance was offered by Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, who was John Paul II's secretary and knew him well.

​"He was a person who loved God and through God he loved every single person," he said in an interview afterward with VOA.
 
Poland is one of the most religious nations in Europe, and the late pope formerly known as Karol Wojtyla is a national hero.
 
As cardinal of Krakow, he supported the workers at the old Lenin steelworks in the Nowa Huta district in the east of the city, when they demanded a place to worship God in their supposed Communist paradise.  The authorities' initial refusal to allow them to erect even a cross triggered riots.
 
A grandmother and granddaughter look up at a statue of Pope John Paul II at the Ark of the Lord church in Krakow, Apr. 23, 2014. (Jerome Socolovsky/VOA)A grandmother and granddaughter look up at a statue of Pope John Paul II at the Ark of the Lord church in Krakow, Apr. 23, 2014. (Jerome Socolovsky/VOA)
x
A grandmother and granddaughter look up at a statue of Pope John Paul II at the Ark of the Lord church in Krakow, Apr. 23, 2014. (Jerome Socolovsky/VOA)
A grandmother and granddaughter look up at a statue of Pope John Paul II at the Ark of the Lord church in Krakow, Apr. 23, 2014. (Jerome Socolovsky/VOA)
Marian Kordaszewski helped build the Ark of the Lord Church - a soaring boat-like structure - with his bare hands, and he remembers Wojtyla's visits.
 
"He was angel in a human body, he was just good to the core," Kordaszewski recalled.
 
A society in transition

The ghost of John Paul II is all over Krakow, from the modernist church in Nowa Huta to the episcopal palace downtown, where he would talk to the crowds from a window above the entrance.  Also from the house where he lived and met with his underground theater troupe, to the Jagiellonian University where he studied linguistics.
 
A group of elementary schoolchildren visiting the university fondly talked about the late "papierz" and what it means to be Catholic.
 
But Poland is a society in transition, and Magdalena Kozak, who is attending an academic conference at the linguistics department, thinks secularization cannot be stopped.
 
"Because the whole world is going this way!" she said.  "Because we are getting more and more open to other cultures."
 
Every 22nd of the month since Pope John Paul II's death, people in Krakow have been holding a vigil, hoping he would be canonized, April 22, 2014. (Jerome Socolovsky/VOA)Every 22nd of the month since Pope John Paul II's death, people in Krakow have been holding a vigil, hoping he would be canonized, April 22, 2014. (Jerome Socolovsky/VOA)
x
Every 22nd of the month since Pope John Paul II's death, people in Krakow have been holding a vigil, hoping he would be canonized, April 22, 2014. (Jerome Socolovsky/VOA)
Every 22nd of the month since Pope John Paul II's death, people in Krakow have been holding a vigil, hoping he would be canonized, April 22, 2014. (Jerome Socolovsky/VOA)
Olga Gorska, a 33-year-old Warsaw lawyer visiting Krakow with her German boyfriend, finds the veneration of John Paul to be exaggerated.
 
"I do not want to say that he is too much worshipped, but there is a kind of cult of him," she said.  
 
The ceremonies at the John Paul II shrine will culiminate with an all-night vigil on Saturday and Mass on Sunday, following a live transmission of the canonization ceremony from Rome.
 
But judging from the faces of the people attending the ceremonies earlier this week - and of those at other churches in Krakow in the past few days - the late pope's most devoted followers are aging.  Preserving the church's influence in Poland may be a lot to ask, even of a saint.

Jerome Socolovsky

Jerome Socolovsky is the award-winning religion correspondent for the Voice of America, based in Washington. He reports on the rapidly changing faith landscape of the United States, including interfaith issues, secularization and non-affiliation trends and the growth of immigrant congregations.

You May Like

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

Physically and culturally close to Western Europe, Lviv feels solidarity with compatriots in country’s east but says they need to decide own future More

West African Women Disproportionately Affected by Ebola

Women's roles in families and the community put them at greater risk for contracting the disease, officials say More

Video NASA's MAVEN Spacecraft Arrives at Mars

Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution craft will measure rates at which gases escape Martian atmosphere into space More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbiti
X
September 22, 2014 9:20 PM
NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbit

NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

The western Ukrainian city of Lviv prides itself on being both physically and culturally close to Western Europe. The Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country are 1,200 kilometers away, and seemingly even farther away in their world view. Still, as VOA’s Al Pessin reports, the war is having an impact in Lviv.
Video

Video Saving Global Fish Stocks Starts in the Kitchen

With an estimated 90 percent of the world’s larger fish populations having already vanished, a growing number of people in the seafood industry are embracing the concept of sustainable fishing and farming practices. One American marine biologist turned restaurateur in Thailand is spreading the word among fellow chefs and customers. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Chinese Admiral Key in China’s Promotion of Sea Links

China’s President last week wrapped up landmark visits to India, Sri Lanka and Maldives, part of a broader campaign to promote a new “Maritime Silk Road” in Asia. The Chinese government’s promotion efforts rely heavily on the country’s best-known sailor, a 15th century eunuch named Zheng He. VOA's Bill Ide reports from the sailor’s hometown in Yunnan on the effort to promote China’s future by recalling its past.
Video

Video Experts Fear Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid