passed over in silence? There were. Were there Poles who paid with their lives for rescuing Jews? There were. The remembrance of the 50th anniversary of the outbreak of World War II puts us on the same side of the barricade on the side of extermination and death.
Jews, Gypsies, Poles -- these were peoples condemned to death in Nazi strategy, but according to a different plan and on a different scale. For example, Poles were exterminated primarily in the stratum of the intelligentsia. A common destiny joined the persecuted. In the Polish military cemetery at Monte Cassino, in addition to the crosses over the graves of Catholics, there are gravestones with the Star of David -- also Polish soldiers. In the mass graves of the Polish officers murdered at Katyn, without a doubt there are also graves of Jews. The brotherhood of common martydom and commingled ashes has exceptional eloquence. Antoni Sionimski, a Polish poet who did not hide his origins, brought out the truth about the nameless heroes of Warsaw when he wrote:
"For you my song and my tears,
"Ordinary, plain little people,
"A hundred times and more you fell in battle,
"But who remember your names?
"Porters, shoemakers, craftsmen,
"Doctors, tailors and servants,
"Wives and sisters, so many months,
"Hidden among ruins down in the cellars,
"Through this folly of blood and glory,
"In agonies, in despair they died,
"For you my tears, hot tears."
(-- "Grave of an Unknown Inhabitant of Warsaw)
Many Jews immersed themselves in Polish culture and in Christianity, and the cross which marks their graves did not take away their love for their people.
Therefore, why did the problem of Auschwitz and the convent of the Carmelite sisters arise? Why did it suddenly erupt 40 years after the ovens of the crematoria were extinguished? These questions are very tormenting when we speak of peace, which is to eliminate the effects of war. I would like, in humility and with a desire for conciliation, to touch upon this subject.
The extent of the questions is so great that a dialogue is necessary -- a dialogue of systamatic explanation of difficult things, which omits nothing. We have our faults regarding the Jews, but today I would like to say: Beloved Jews, do not converse with us from the position of a people raised above all others and do not set conditions that are impossible for us to fulfill.
The Carmelite sisters living beside the camp in Auschwitz wanted and want to be a sign of that human solidarity which includes the living and the dead. Do you not see, esteemed Jews, that intervention against them injures the feelings of all Poles and the sovereignty we gained with such difficulty? Your power is the mass media, which is at your disposal in many countries. Let them not serve to inflame anti-Polish sentiment.
Recently a detachment of seven Jews from New York attacked the convent at Auschwitz. To be sure, because they were restrained, it did not result in the killing of the sisters or the destruction of the convent: but do not call the aggressors heroes. Let us be able to distinguish Oswiecim-Auschwitz, where mostly Poles and other nations perished, from Brzezinka-Birkenau a few kilometers distant, where mostly Jews perished.
Next, let us distinguish the civil plane from the theological plane. Let a new doctrine on the subject of the presence or absence of God in a place of sacrifice be justified and understood by all people who believe in God, and let it not be a political tool in the hands of a group of people, especially non-beleivers.
May we who venerate Mary of Nazareth and share with you Jews many places revered as holy begin a dialogue in frankness and in truth. If there is no anti-Polish sentiment, there will be no anti-Semitism among us. Our wish for you is that in the holy land of Palestine no one throws stones at you, the sound of gunfire is silenced, no one perishes from rifle bullets and there is peace- shalom there where you are.
5. Toward Peace
The Divine Wisdom constantly accompanies the works of God, and the delight of wisdom is "in the sons of men." Today we ask Mary, Seat of Wisdom, to bring the Divine Wisdom closer to us. The words of Vatican Council II resound: "Our age, more than any of the past, needs such wisdom if all that man discovers is to be enobled through human effort" (Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, 15).
We are witnessing new and important changes achieved in our country. We must be equal to the great challenged of history and not view in a passive, cynical or hostile way the efforts of people who want to lead Poland on the path to development and good management or on the path to peace.
Therefore, wisdom is needed to see what is possible and what is impossible, to be able to join ranks in order to surmount together a difficult moment, which does not threaten with fists or stamp its feet or stop the turning wheels of our production but encourages the weak.
The concerns of our country -- church and people -- we place in the hands of Our Lady of Jasna Gora, Queen of Poland. Once more filled with faith and confidence as always, we trust in the Seat of Wisdom, Our Lady of Jasna Gora. Amen.