Tuesday, October 17, 2006

"Lo Hanno Chiamato Da Un Paese Lontano"

Twenty-eight years ago yesterday, Karol Wojtyla of Krakow was elected to Peter's Chair. And nothing's been the same since.

As further tribute to the man they've come to see, even in death, as their "uncrowned king," for a second year the late pontiff's countrymen have observed the anniversary of the Polish Pope's election as "Pope Day." The current Pope saw this as so important that he taped a message for broadcast in the country, where he said, in part of how great Wojtyla's love was for the church in his native land.

John Paul "loved [the Polish church] as the mother that gave him life in the faith and gave him growth in the love of Christ and his brothers," Benedict XVI said. "But he also loved it as a community united always and entirely to its Pastors, wedded in the past by its suffering of many persecutions, but always faithful to the values of the Gospel."

Many realized in his life that the Magnificenzo was "money," but now he's actually money; to commemorate the holiday, the Polish government has released two banknotes featuring John Paul's likeness.
The front of the bills features an image of John Paul II holding his crucifix-topped staff against a background of the world map, symbolising the universal nature of his pontificate, Radio Polonia says.

The reverse side of the bill shows a moving episode from John Paul's inauguration when he embraced in a touching gesture cardinal Stefan Wyszynski, the legendary Primate of the Millenium, the leader of the Catholic Church in the then still Communist Poland.

The water mark on the commemorative banknote has the official papal seal of John Paul II and is surrounded by names of all the countries he had visited during his eventful pontificate.

The design includes a quote from the late pontiff: "There would not be a Polish pope at the Holy See if not for your faith, not backing down when faced with prison and suffering, your heroic hope."
In other Polish church matters, JP's successor approaches his most important move on its future with the appointment of a new archbishop of Warsaw in succession to Cardinal Jozef Glemp, who turns 77 in December.

Whether Benedict chooses from inside the country's resident hierarchy or dispatches one of the two Poles in his senior Curia to take its top post remains to be seen, of course. But it might just end up being another addition to the Polish Pope's legacy that, in his wake, the country's top two Sees were filled by Vatican vets.