Hundreds of Polish pilgrims have arrived in the Vatican City for the installation of the first Pope from a Communist country on Sunday (22 October).
Hundreds of Polish pilgrims have arrived in the Vatican City for the installation of the first Pope from a Communist country on Sunday (22 October). And on Friday (20 October) Pope John Paul II outlined his foreign policy plans for the Vatican.
SYNOPSIS: In an address to foreign diplomats accredited to the Holy See, Pope John Paul pledged to continue the policy of the Roman Catholic Church to uphold the rights of individual nations. Speaking in French to more than one hundred diplomats, the Pontiff also appealed to all countries to respect religious freedom.
He said that having diplomatic relations with a country did not necessarily mean approval of its regime. "That", he said, "is none of our business". The Pope said the most important thing was the will to have dialogue.
The new Pontiff, who was formerly Cardinal Karol Wojtyla of Cracow, has already told the College of Cardinals that Christians are still being imprisoned for their beliefs. Pope John Paul's own experience includes forced Labour during the Nazi occupation of Poland in World War Two. For years he has struggled against what he calls the programmed 'atheisation' of his country.
The Pontiff told the diplomats that governments should respect the need for religious liberty. Freedom, respect for life and the dignity of the human being are essential to the well-being of all men, the Pope continued. Pope John Paul said there were still too many physical and moral sufferings which stemmed from what he called the negligence, selfishness, blindness and hardness of man. So far, the new Pope has given no indication if he will modify his opposition to Communist governments or curb his outspoken condemnation of them.
On Friday (20 October) two charter flights brought Polish clergy and pilgrims to Rome for Sunday's inauguration. Several others flights are expected to arrive in Rome before Sunday bringing hundreds of Poles to the inauguration. Those who can't be in St. Peter's Square on Sunday will be able to watch the Pope's inauguration in the first ever live television transmission to their country from the Vatican.
In Poland, church authorities have called for speedy handling of exit visa formalities for those wishing to travel to the Vatican. The country's religious affairs minister, Kazimierierz Kakol, said that any Pole could get a visa to attend the inauguration -- except those who, he said, would not get one anyway. Polish pilgrims who arrived in Rome on Friday were greeted by Italian reporters but, because of language difficulties, could not always make themselves understood.
Poland's Head of State, Henryk Jablonski, will also attend the inauguration.