Kathy Schiffer is a Catholic blogger. In addition to her blog Seasons of Grace, her articles have appeared in the National Catholic Register, Aleteia, Zenit, the Michigan Catholic, Legatus Magazine, and other Catholic publications. She’s worked for Catholic and other Christian ministries since 1988, as radio producer, director of special events and media relations coordinator. Kathy and her husband, Deacon Jerry Schiffer, have three adult children.
On his first trip to Central Europe as leader of the free world, President Donald Trump gave a nod – no, several nods – to the Catholic faith, which has nurtured the Polish nation in times of trouble.
In his July 5, 2017 address to the people of Poland in Warsaw's Krasiński Square, President Trump expressed admiration for the Polish nation, noting that from its farms and villages to its great cathedrals and squares of its great cities, Poland lives, Poland prospers, and Poland prevails. He noted that the Polish nation is a land of great heroes including Copernicus, Chopin, and Saint John Paul, the beloved pope who helped to defeat Communism in his native land. He also remembered among beloved Polish heroes Blessed Michal Kozal, auxiliary bishop of Włocławek, who died in the concentration camp at Dachau during World War II.
President Trump delivered his address standing beside the famed monument to the Warsaw Uprising of 1944, a major World War II operation by the Polish resistance Home Army to liberate Warsaw from German occupation. His remarks were reminiscent of Pope John Paul II's message when the pontiff visited Krakow in 1979. When the Pope cited the need for spiritual and cultural renewal, reminding the Poles of the transforming power of Christ's love, an enthusiastic Polish crowd chanted:
We want God, we want God, we want God in the family, we want God in the schools, we want God in books!
Yesterday President Trump remembered that heartfelt cry from the people of Poland, recalling the papal Mass in Warsaw:
And when the day came on June 2nd, 1979, and one million Poles gathered around Victory Square for their very first mass with their Polish Pope, that day, every communist in Warsaw must have known that their oppressive system would soon come crashing down.... They must have known it at the exact moment during Pope John Paul II’s sermon when a million Polish men, women, and children suddenly raised their voices in a single prayer. A million Polish people did not ask for wealth. They did not ask for privilege. Instead, one million Poles sang three simple words: “We Want God.”
...As I stand here today before this incredible crowd, this faithful nation, we can still hear those voices that echo through history. Their message is as true today as ever. The people of Poland, the people of America, and the people of Europe still cry out 'We want God.'
He remembered, too, the courage of Blessed Michal Kozal, a Polish bishop who died of a lethal injection in the concentration camp at Dachau. President Trump said,
“But there is a courage and a strength deep in the Polish character that no one could destroy. The Polish martyr, Bishop Michael Kozal, said it well: 'More horrifying than a defeat of arms is a collapse of the human spirit.'”
If the President's message ended there, it would be enough; but there was much more to warm the Catholic heart. President Trump called upon Americans, Poles, and all Europeans to work together to confront forces which threaten to undermine our values and to erase the bonds of culture, faith and tradition. He reminded the gathered crowd that we – Americans and Poles alike – strive for excellence, and cherish inspiring works of art that honor God.
“And above all,” he said, “we value the dignity of every human life, protect the rights of every person, and share the hope of every soul to live in freedom. That is who we are.”
The full text of the President's address is available at the White House website.