VATICAN CITY — In messages to both residents of Poland and Bergamo, Pope Francis conveyed his gratitude for Blessed John Paul II and John XXIII, saying that their holiness continues to inspire the Church today.
“I thank the Polish people and the Church in Poland for the gift of John Paul II,” the Pope said in a video clip addressed to the Church in Poland, adding that “all of us have been enriched by this gift.”
Aired Thursday evening, the Holy Father’s message was shown on Polish television and radio, and it was sent alongside a letter.
In his opening words to the Polish people, Pope Francis relayed his joy in being able to canonize the two pontiffs this Sunday, Divine Mercy Sunday.
“I am grateful to John Paul II, as all the members of the people of God, for his untiring service, his spiritual guidance and for his extraordinary testimony of holiness.”
“What John Paul II asked all, which is not to be afraid and to open wide the doors to Christ,” he observed, “he did it first,” explaining that “he has opened society, culture, political and economic systems to Christ.”
He reversed “with the strength of a giant — strength that came from God — a tendency that might have seemed irreversible,” the pontiff said. He noted that, with his “testimony of faith, of love and apostolic courage, accompanied by a great human charisma,” John Paul II taught the world not to be afraid of being called Christians.
The Bishop of Rome then drew special attention to how, before “traveling the streets of the world, the Polish pope grew in his service to God in Poland, where his heart was formed; a heart that then expanded to a universal dimension.”
“John Paul II,” he said, “has done everything for everyone.”
Again thanking Poland for the gift of Blessed John Paul II, Pope Francis emphasized that he continues to inspire the Church today and that “we are inspired by his words, his writings, his gestures, his style of service.”
“He inspires us by his suffering lived with a heroic hope. He inspires us with his total trust in Christ, Redeemer of man, and in the Mother of God.”
Concluding his message, Francis made known his anticipation of coming to Poland for the first time for World Youth Day in Krakow in 2016. He also thanked all of the journalists covering the canonization in print, radio and television, because, through them, many who are not in Rome “will be able to participate in this great event.”
In his message to the Diocese of Bergamo, a region in Italy from which Blessed John XXIII hailed, Pope Francis affirmed to the people that he knows “how much you love Pope John and how much he loved your land.”
“From the day of his election as pontiff, the name of Bergamo and Sotto il Monte became familiar to the whole world; and even today, over 50 years later, they are associated with his smiling face and his paternal tenderness,” he said.
Extending his invitation for the citizens of Bergamo to thank the Lord “for the great gift that his holiness has been for the universal Church,” the Pope also encouraged them “to cherish the memory of the land in which it germinated.”
“A land of profound faith lived in daily life, of poor families, but united in love of the Lord, of a community capable of sharing in simplicity.”
Speaking of the beatified pope’s calling of the Second Vatican Council in order to address a pastoral response to the presence of the Church in the modern world, Pope Francis explained that “the renewal desired from the Second Vatican Council has opened the road.”
It is “a special joy that the canonization of Pope Roncalli takes place together with that of Blessed John Paul II,” the Pope continued.
Going on, the Bishop of Rome expressed his certainty “that civil society will always be able to find inspiration in the life of the Pope of Bergamo and of the atmosphere he generated, seeking new ways and adapting to the times in order to build a life based on the perennial values of fraternity and solidarity.”
Bringing his message to a close, Pope Francis asked all of Bergamo to pray for him, and he assured them of his own “remembrance and prayers,” particularly for “the suffering” and “for the sick.”
He concluded: “I send to all of you, during the immense feast of Easter, the apostolic blessing.”