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Saturday, 2 April 2005

Statement by the President of the Republic of Poland

Late in the evening of April 2, 2005 the President of the Republic of Poland issued the following statement in the Presidential Palace on the occasion of the passing of His Holiness Pope John Paul II.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is here in the Presidential Palace in Warsaw where we have gathered together with the supreme authorities of the Republic of Poland, the representatives of the legislative, the Speakers of the Polish Parliament and Senate, the government of the Republic of Poland with Mr. Prime Minister, the Apostolic Nuncio, Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, Presidents of Supreme Tribunals – the Constitutional Tribunal, the Supreme Court and the Administrative Court, in the presence of the ministers of the President’s Chancellery, that I wish to express my profoundest grief and mourning. No more is the Pope, Poland’s most outstanding Countryman, the Holy Father. The good father of us all – believers and non-believers, followers of various religions.
No more is an extraordinary person, one of the most creative people of modern times. The man who moved Heaven and Earth, who traveled to the remotest corners of our globe in the search of a path to the souls of other people. And who had only one, the only goal throughout his long life – that good, wisdom and justice get the upper hand in this world and in each of us.
Today the hearts of Poles are filled with profound grief. With the pain after the loss of someone close, a friend and spiritual guide, whose energy, power of faith and an extraordinary gift of persuasion were the sources of the hope we all shared. But we also feel pride – that born on the Polish soil was one of the greatest men in modern history. That many centuries of very profound spirituality of the Polish people gave rise to such an outstanding and beautiful figure who could give so much to this world. And on this sad day we feel happy that we could live in his time.
John Paul II was the great apostle of reconciliation. He made a remarkable contribution to the fall of the „Iron Curtain” and enlargement of the European Union, thus helping many countries to rebuild their cooperation paths, and their citizens – to regain sovereign rights and their sense of dignity.
I had this special honor to address His Holiness in St. Peter’s Square on the 25th anniversary of His Pontificate. Today I wish to reiterate:
And now the world, Europe, Poland have changed beyond any recognition. All that would not have happened without Karol Wojtyła, without John Paul II, without the pope who is a Pole, without the pope who is a Slav and a European. Without His strength and faith. Without His call that continues to resound today „do not fear, for the sake of human rights, for the sake of liberty, equality, brotherhood, for the sake of human solidarity, open the door to Christ”. All that would not have happened without His words of truth and without the courage of His vision. Without the Pope’s conviction that it is necessary to consolidate the foundations of history and tradition, as they are not in contradiction to the present and future but have an impact on them. Without the Pope who came „ to speak up for the forgotten nations and peoples to the Church, Europe and the world”. Nothing of the kind would have been accomplished without John Paul II, a good, sensitive, friendly person caring about each single man – without the Holy Father. We are grateful for this great change, for everything that was so generously lavished on us – for the love of our Homeland and that He spoke „to everyone of us, from the tiniest baby to an old man (…)”.
Poland and Poles have a special debt to pay Your Holiness. Poland would not be free today without the Polish Pope.
And without Him the dialogue between people, societies and religions would not have taken on a new dimension. He is the first Pope in history to have stepped into a synagogue and mosque. He turned the areas of rivalry into the space of dialogue and joint action. Finally, this Pope removed many barriers in human awareness. His wise words and genuine example convinced everyone that by showing mercy, feeling compassion and being ready to forgive we manifest our humanity.
Fellow Countrymen,
The final years of the ministry of John Paul II were heroic. He was fighting for a cause but he was also fighting with himself, with his suffering. He never stopped fighting, even for a moment. He thus showed an enormous willpower. He continued to teach, write and he stayed closely in touch with other people until the very end. And until the end He served as much as He could those who needed Him.
Today we are painfully aware that His passing is a great loss to Poland. To the Polish society and to the Polish state. We have irretrievably lost the greatest moral mentor who helped many citizens find the sense of their everyday life and make the most difficult choices, both as Christ’s representative on the earth, but also as a kind-hearted father and demanding friend. We have also lost Poland’s indefatigable advocate worldwide, all over the world.
Karol Wojtyła – John Paul II – never forgot about His Homeland. He was a patriot of the highest order. He gave this world what is best in us and in our history, but he also demanded from us to be better and to live up to His vision of the world. I am personally grateful to fate and history that I was lucky to meet the man whose knowledge, wisdom and goodness were of the highest order.
I know from many personal conversations that I had with Him that He was very proud of Poland, our achievements, but that he also worried about our failures and weaknesses. He had a sense of fulfillment, but he also felt concerned. That Man, That Pope never skimped on or meted out the love of Poland.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Today we pay homage to our great Compatriot. As the President of the Republic of Poland, together with the government of the Republic of Poland, I hereby proclaim the national mourning and that the flag of the Republic of Poland be flown at half staff from today until the day Pope John Paul II is buried.
But the most important homage we can pay to this indefatigable wanderer along the paths of this globe and human hearts is by benefiting from the wealth and power of His thinking. By understanding his message about the need of peace and reconciliation, about the need to cherish such values as freedom, compassion, solidarity. As long as we are able to do that Karol Wojtyła, John Paul II, will never be gone from us. He will continue to help us choose what is wise and just. What is good to another human being, what is good for Poland and the world.
Holy Father, we are grateful for everything. May we live up to Your teaching, work and conduct. It would better be!
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