Below I provide for your information, a translation from an interview that the Archbishop of Warsaw- Praga, His Eminence Archbishop Henryk Hoser, gave to the Catholic Information Agency, which appeared in the Niedziela magazine on the 2nd of February, 2015. (see here)
I would like to draw your attention of the overall focus of Archbishop Hoser, which coincidentally is a very accurate picture of the focus of the entire Catholic Church in Poland. When reading the below, what needs to be understood is that the Church in Poland appears to be one of the least destroyed of the national churches. Furthermore, when reading the article, it becomes self evident that the Poles are trying to get ahead of the “new springtime of the spirit of VII” curve. They are organizing the remnant of the faithful who still attends mass weekly, which is still about 45% of declared Catholics. Further notice the methodology of securing a solid base of strong families and then trying to draw the pathological families and individuals “from the peripheries” into a natural Catholic setting.
It is this aspect of the Polish Church’s present situation which set off the violent reaction at the Secret Synod of Bishops in 2014. Is it any wonder why these prelates felt very betrayed, and presently are spoiling for a fight. So from the Polish side, it is shaping up to be a long hot autumn in Rome come this October.
The Church has betrayed John Paul II because pastoral practice regarding marriage and the family did not follow the teachings of the Pope, it did not even take his teaching into consideration – claims in an interview Archbishop Henryk Hoser to the KAI (Catholic Information Agency). The Chairman of the Committee of Experts at the KEP (Polish Episcopate Conference) in the area of Bioethics believes that in today’s world, mainly due to the media, all personal relationships are eroticized. From the texts of gender theorists it is suggested that “the world is ruled by sexual satisfaction, and that man exists for the orgasm” – notes the Archbishop of Warsaw-Praga. Furthermore, in his appraisal of the situation, the future of the Church are undoubtedly – the laity- courageous witnesses of the faith.
Alina Petrov-Wasilewicz, Fr. Jacek Szymczak OP (IAC): The first part of the meeting of the Synod on the Family is over. What will be next?
Archbishop Henryk Hoser: At the Synod there will be a confrontation with delegates from countries where pathological families are already in the majority – broken families, “patchwork” families, a small percentage of stable families, indissoluble marriages. And the demand of the provision of Holy Communion to the divorced. Therein lies the erroneous assumption, because it is a postulate of God’s mercy without justice, while at the same time you have to start by saying that in married and family life justice must be guaranteed, which completely is not take into account.
I often quote the words of John the Baptist, who told the adulterous King Herod: “You have no right to take your brother’s wife.” This is a requirement of justice and for that he also gave his life. John Paul II writes about this – that love is to be just, and we have to be righteous before God. Because the other side of someone’s lack of justice is harm. But the harm is not mentioned. About the harm done to the weak are not told, because ours is an era of social Darwinism.
–[Interviewers] This is digital photo of the family – is how the Archbishop replied to the questionnaire circulated before the Synod of the family. What do you see in this picture?
– ABHH The survey had a universal range , it was a collective picture. Therein lies its great value, although it was a bit vague, since it was not performed with a sociological research methodology. Questions were open, and the answers were subjective views, some approximation of the positions. There is a lack of clarity, some problems were either undervalued or overvalued. This is how it was explained by the Secretary of the Synod, Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri.
In our diocese we sent out questionnaires, but before that, in 2010, we made a sociological study. And what happened? There are constant tendencies toward the destabilization of family life. Poland in this respect, is divergent in this phase from the West, the difference is 20-30 years, but the influence of the liberal culture are with us more and becoming more accepted, even in traditional environments. This is confirmed by the annual Christmas Carol visits, or pastoral visits in the homes; (Ed. Note: around the time of the Epiphany) there is no doubt of the growing phenomenon of cohabitation of the young. This phenomenon is quite broad, as it now meets with the approval of their parents and grandparents.
–[Interviewers] How can you explain this?
– ABHH Skepticism about the successful realization of a project like a sacramental family. The older generation no longer assumes an imperative of fidelity, even in the marriage sacrament, because of the disappearance of the congnizance and the knowledge of what the sacrament of marriage entails. When it is said to be “married in the Church,” we know that it looks good, it is a beautiful setting, the music, the emotion, the parents are happy. But if it does not work out, then we part company, and in advance this is the assumption. There is also no objection from the older generation, which also often live far apart from the values of Christianity, although the parents are united by the sacrament.
What you also have to remember is that our society is a post-abortion society. There’s a huge trauma, a Somatic memory encoded in hundreds of thousands of women and men. After 1956. as a result of the law legalizing abortion, there have been approximately 800,000 abortions performed per year. That’s a horrific number. This trauma continuously active. The weekly “Let’s go” in November last year, published a shocking interview with prof. Neyem Philip, a Canadian psychiatrist, about the effects of the post-abortion syndrome in the social context, as a syndrome of “survivors”. One of its symptoms is the aggression towards women in a state of pregnancy and towards mothers with young children, especially with many children.
For a long time, propaganda against families with many children was promoted, it was considered a pathology, cabarets held these families up for ridicule, mockingly singing songs like “Every year a prophet.” Now, when it is too late, there appears to be a reflection about this situation and action is being taken to reverse the thinking about fertility, but all the actions that are taken in Europe, are being taken too late.
In Poland approximately 30 percent of marriages fail and the trend is increasing. Emigration greatly contributed to this new situation. I came upon this in the 1990s, when I was a confessor in a town which housed Polish refugee camps. Every second confession dealt with adultery, because the spouse was left in Poland. These effects exists, and although the process of a destabilization of a marriage progresses slowly, it is very pronounced. What we have is a mechanism of a vicious cycle of family life – children, having sight of the parents’ marriage falling apart, have a weakened capacity to create a solid, stable family, because they does not have a personal role model. And for the child, the parents’ divorce is the most terrible shock, one which the child does not want to have to remember.
– [Interviewers] Migration, poverty, the collapse of communism, the break up of marriage. The Archbishop also stated that “marriage and family are the target of a hostile policy that is embracing the entire world.
– ABHH Since the time of the industrial revolution, all human life has been subordinated to production. Society is subordinated to production, efficiency and maximize profit. The individual unit is a cog in the process, and the optimization of profit today has been brought to an absolute perfection, an absolute draining effect on society. Liberalism reduced the intervention of the state in this area. It should be considered how these mechanisms can be weakened, in order to create a social, economic, safeguard, likewise for the family, and for its future. Marketing believes that teh family decreases and weakens production, is a drag on it.
One analyst, an expert at the Vatican bank, who worked in California, said that marketing analysts recognize that divorces are beneficial for retailers, generating demand for creating and remodelng of new households. After parting, there is a need to buy a new refrigerator, washing machine, an apartment. On the other hand, consumption becomes a kind of consolation after the trauma, to be comforted after the defeat suffered in life. Similarly, in singles – consumption serves to fill the void. Therefore, the pro-divorce activities are seen as a prospect for obtaining consumers, and Poland is no exception, organized are special divorce exhibitions, law firms and some media summarize legal advice on how to effectively carry out a divorce. And it is becoming more and more acceptable and in some ways held up as a model. On numerous web portals and tabloids the viewer are stupefied with the lives of stars, in which many pathologies exist. An actor or a politician who abandoned his wife with several children, are made out to be heroes. The entire time, society is being provided with these shockingly negative characters, that are put up on a pedestal. People are viewing, absorbing and are completely uncritical of this sort of media coverage.
This lack of criticism became apparent tome, when I returned to Polish after 34 years. When I left in the middle of the Gierek regime (Ed Note: mid 1970’s), the people were very immune to propaganda, knew how to read between the lines, in 1968 they demonstrated under the slogan the “Press is lying.” Today, no one will say that “the press is lying,” but will say that “the Church’s lying.” In this respect, the dependence on the media is complete, the media rule the world, and those “holding power” have complete knowledge of this fact. Elections are won in the media, especially on television. Riding through the villages and municipalities is not effective, because at such meetings, only those come that already are convinced.
–[Interviewers] It’s the media, not the family that shapes standards, a vision of the world, and forcing these trends.
– ABHH All personal relationships are eroticized, and this is an extremely dangerous phenomenon. Sexualization of friendship destroyed the friendship between males and females. All are suspected of sexual contacts, including those of the past, for example, Maria Konopnicka and Maria Dulębianka (Ed. Notes: Polish literary figures). The masters of suspicion – Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, Friedrich Nietzsche, are collecting an abundant harvest. Genderism is transformed into queer. If one would read into the texts of various theorists of this trend, it would appear that the world is ruled by sexual satisfaction, and that man exists for an orgasm alone. And one of the most important authors of gender, Judith Butler, got an honorary doctorate at the University of Freiburg, a university which describes itself as Catholic! Genderism is not a struggle for equality between women and men: it is a fight with all constitutive social structures, referred to as stereotypes and primarily with the “traditional family.” It has created a society of independent individuals. Society both asexual and pan-sexual.
–[Interviewers] So, on that digital picture we can see a weak and abandoned family or its lost members, and even the background is disconcerting – the cultural climate is not conducive either. It’s time to ask about the hope for a way out of the crisis.
– ABHH Hope never dies. As in the French literary culture, there are two shades of hope – espoir and espérance. The first is the hope associated with a human dimension of the phenomenon, but there is also espérance, which is linked to the fact that God exists, and to Him belongs the last word. Man is not able to live with in a perspective of collective suicide. As a result, it is expected of hope as night guard awaits the dawn or thirsty await water in the desert.
Where in the world are healthy social reflexes? For three years we have seen a growing movement in France, opposition to a national Zapatero-ism (From the Spanish Prime Minister). In defense of marriage and the family, out on the streets march a million people, but the government does not respond to the protests and further advances its plan to introduce same-sex “marriages”. When the government of François Miterrand attempt was eliminated Catholic schools, a million protesters took to the streets then and the government withdrew from this idea. Today, the French ruling politicians do not react to a social protest. In Poland it is the same.
After all, I believe in the common sense of mankind, and moreover – that it will overcome the resistance of politicians. The naked eye can see that we are going “to the wall” in the direction of total absurdity, we realize that it is absurdity. We have lost our sense of meaning. But at some point our instinct will prevail; I am convinced.
Espérance – a French word, meaning hope – the theological virtue. My bishopric motto reads: “God is greater” – taken from the 1 Epistle. John the Apostle. God is greater and it is our hope and mainstay that we be brought out of the dark valley.
[Interviewers] The Church is the only institution that so categorically defends marriage …
– – ABHH The church is a prophetic voice in this world. It is not to be understood as a clairvoyant seeing into the future. The preaching of the prophet is to provide foresight into the consequence of positions, is to provide insight into the situation from God’s perspective, read the signs of the times.
–[Interviewers] Marriage and the family are so attacked because they contain an exhaustive set of characteristics, a reflection of God’s characteristics?
– ABHH The family is an icon of the Holy Trinity on earth. It is an icon, and therefore it arose, and it exists. It is the only institution that God created and planned by creating a difference between the sexes. People are not monads (Ed. Note: individual units), do not arise as a result of the cloning of animals, but as a result of the meeting, through the highest form of human love, between people from even remote systems of values and horizons. A man and a woman meet each other, they come from two different families, two different histories, traditions, along their way to adulthood, and their love merges them and arranges them in one. Is it not a fascinating phenomenon? John Paul II was fascinated by human love. He said that he devoted his life to human love. I learned the most in this respect from John Paul II.
– [Interviewers] Here we come to the teaching of the Church on marriage. Teaching of Pope Wojtyla is probably a breakthrough compared to the previous teaching.
– – ABHH Yves Semen, founder and director of the Institute of Anthropology Philantropos Freiburg Switzerland and author of books on sexuality, spirituality of marriage and marriage preparation according to John Paul II claims that it was a Copernican revolution, a time bomb, as papal biographer George Weigel believes likewise.
–[Interviewers] In the tradition of the Church marriage, though recommended and respected, was considered a more risky way to salvation. St. Thomas claimed that its goal is to extend the species and the satisfaction of desire. This greatly impoverishes the image of that covenant between a man and a woman.
– –ABHH Yves Semen who is already quoted, regrets that Saint Thomas died too early before he could write a special treaty of marriage. He did not, since he wrote about the other sacraments, but about marriage – not much.
– [Interviewers] Maybe it’s because the it was the least valued left to the end? But back to John Paul II, how to pass on his teaching? Sociological surveys and research on the aspirations of Polish youth, demonstrate that, contrary to popular culture, a huge percentage of young people dream of a happy and lasting marriage, so it does possess appeal
– ABHH Allow me to be brutal: the Church betrayed John Paul II. Not the Church as the bride of Christ, or the Church of our creed, because John Paul II was its expression, an authentic voice of the Church, but the pastoral practice betrayed John Paul II. It is a thesis with which I agree, because 40 years of my priesthood has been devoted to marriage and family, and during this time I have promoted the slogan “the evangelization of marital intimacy.” In Poland it was better received in this regard. In many other countries, the contestation of the teaching of the Church, as expressed by Bl. Paul VI, stopped the practice of pastoral care of the families.
– [Interviewers] These are strong words.
– ABHH Pastoral practice also betrayed Pope John Paul II because it did not follow his message, did not even become acquainted with his teachings. Everyone says that it is difficult, even pastors and lay people often say that the documents of the Church are too difficult, that “we do not understand them.” The catechists “Male and female he created them” really are tough, you need to be focused, because the reasoning consists of spiraling threads that are not linearly developed, but weave through the subsequent sections that number 129, taught over the span of four years, to reach the conclusions and the proposals end. There are already numerous publications on the teaching of Pope language texts about love, marriage and family.
– [Interviewers] How should difficult teaching be provided by the pastors?
– ABHH All the guidelines, written by the Pope in the sensational Exhortation “Familiaris Consortio” were not implemented. The Pope formulated in them, among others, four tasks for the family. Please ask the confreres to name them. Pastors can not name them, because they do not read or do not remember, and to faithfully accomplish something, they need to know exactly what it is. Catechists from the Parish Formation Centers for Families whom I have created in the diocese, say that when they list to their fiance all these sentences, they just roll their eyes. In general, they have no idea the scale of the tasks facing them.
Because in a marriage it should be fun. But you have to start the program and update premarital courses.
– –ABHH It’s urgent, because the programs were developed in the 1960s, such a program must be updated and culturally embedded. You need to know where the shoals and reefs are, on which we can crash. It is the cultural revolution, but the most important aspect is our response, which is a positive exposition of conjugal love, and above all, not to introduce idolatry carnal love, but to explore the sacred element that resides in it.
Since marital love is the communication of conjugal love and the transmission of life, these are the most sacred areas of human activities. And therein lies the evangelization of marital intimacy. John Paul II, speaking of conjugal chastity stated that it is spiritual energy which is able to protect spouses against aggression and selfishness, also in their intimate relationships. People must be made aware of this, yet many believe that these are indecent areas about which one should not speak. This type of pedagogy and catechizes demands complementarity pastoral roles, because the priest at the sermon will not be talking about intimacy in marriage, but the lay people need to do so.
In my diocese, the catechists in the Centers for Families Formation can only be persons in the reproductive age, which themselves have excellent knowledge to determine the periods of fertility. And can encode the fertility factor in mutual relationships. They uncover fertility as a gift, an opportunity given to them by God. Accompanied by the blessing for the creation of man, to be fruitful and multiply. After the fall, it is like a second creation, a reset, and repeated is the blessing of fertility. Fertility, procreation, not reproduction.
–[Interviewers] Do you talk about this with the clerics during lectures in the seminar? Do they work with the families?
– –ABHH I’m trying to cover these contents during the course of my lectures on bioethics. Starting next year, we want to start internships in Family Formation Centers. But first you have to convince the priests to do so. Heaviness and inertia in the Church is huge, even we ourselves do not realize how great. Habits, feeling that it was good, so why change something, that you need to do something.
– Meanwhile, the need is tremendously accelerating, needing to keep pace in response to changes. But the people of the Church are also children of this generation.
– ABHH They’re already set in an individualistic philosophy of life, mentality, isolation, inability to form deep personal relationships, being in a virtual world. This is a very difficult problem of the young generation today.
– [Interviewers] However, in many dioceses there are family friendly initiatives.
– ABHH In Poland there are a large number of grassroots initiatives of the laity, not a week goes by that someone with an idea is not reported. Sometimes these ideas are successful, and sometimes outstanding. In our diocese the Home Church initiative is growing nicely. It is spreading, they have a lot of ideas, these teams are from Notre-Dame, founded by Fr. Henri Caffarel. He pointed out how important it is that every married couple sat down and talked to each other, to have time for myself, only for myself. As you can see, I also have an optimistic statement to make.
– [Interviewers] Laity involvement in the apostolate is a way out of the impasse. But what is the Church to offer people who are completely outside the Church, when there is no common language, references?
– ABHH Muslims in France were asked how they see Christians. And they said Christians are unrecognizable. In the ancient Letter to Diognetus, written by an unknown author, there appears a beautiful passage: “Christians are no different from other people or place of residence, neither the language nor the dress,” but only the values by which they live. You just have to give testimony.
– [Interviewers] Question. How many Catholics did the Muslims meet in “laicized” France. What language can be spoken to that secularized world?
– ABHH In my diocese I gave a directive that whenever I am on a visit, I be greeted by a large family. This is what happens, and these large families give beautiful testimony, because they have beautiful, dear children. You need to find a common language of witness and a large family is very visible. And when people see how wonderful are these children – polite, cultural, that there is no fear in them of being “survivors”, whose parents once had an abortion, contact is easily established. I like to compare children from large families to “only children”. Yes they rub against each other, and they lose some of their edge, they become friendly, they immerse themselves in a network of relationships, they feel safe.
– [Interviewers] How does the Warsaw Prague district and the whole diocese respond to these difficulties?
– ABHH Praga has its own climate. Almost in every courtyard stands a chapel, people are not always wealthy, sometimes have problems, but respect each other and feel tied to the Church. Here interpersonal ties are very strong. In the new districts, however, recently settled, married and the families feel very alone, immersed in an anonymous environment. And faced with a lot of everyday problems. I will try to get into every city and all major deaneries of the diocese, at least one Family Formation Center. They then spread by through a budding process.
[Interviewers] What exactly is involved?
– – ABHH Integral formation of the family in all stages of age. Pope John Paul II defined three steps to prepare for married life – experiences of the child in the family, while with their parents. The most important school is childhood, when a man is with his parents, and then this will be imitated. The second stage is the period of adolescence, extremely difficult for pupils and teachers, and the third – a direct preparation for marriage, the ceremony concluding the sacrament. And the fourth stage, pastoral, post-matrimonial, because you have to be accompanied through out the marriage – in its crises, changes in the phases of life, in all the challenges, until it comes to a good old age. Accompanying couples in all stages and situations – this is the pastoral care of the family.
– [Interviewers] But to start and build a lasting marriage there is a need for appropriate education.
– ABHH Paul VI in “Humanae Vitae,” writes that true conjugal love is to be full of love, that is, it has to be a special form of friendship. This is very lacking in modern marriages – the spouse is not a friend.
– [Interviewers] The diocese also has many associations working with families.
– ABHH try to water everything that grows. Unless you see a dry branch. Growing so beautifully is the Home Church movement, which grew out of the movement Oasis of Fr. Blachnicki, I sent a special invitation to Chemin Neuf, which in turn, created in France a movement that involves marriage and family organized retreats – Canaan. As well as matrimonial meetings with Irene and George Grzybowskich and as I already mentioned Equipes Notre-Dame. I strongly encourage this activity, and the role of the bishop, inter alia, all there is to direct them and to open and facilitate people’s lives. The laity are undoubtedly the future of the Church – courageous witnesses of the faith.
– [Interviewers] Do you Archbishop, see any effects?
– – ABHH The most valuable is that there is some to who one can turn to with a problem, and when people establish contacts, they truly absorb the teaching of the Church.
– [Interviewers] So to sow, and the effects, they are none of our business?
– –ABHH I’m counting on the efficacy of the Word of God. All my homilies are Kerygmatic in nature, nothing better you can give to the faithful. Only the Word of God is creative, has a human effect, but limited. God said, and it happened. As for the effects, St. Paul wrote: I sow, Apollos watered, and God gives the growth.