Thursday, October 16, 2008

Krakow Diary

Last weekend I was invited to address the annual conference of the Polish Federation of pro-life movements, on “The proclamation of the pro-life message in International institutions”. The conference was held in the Pastoral centre attached to the shrine of the Divine Mercy at Lagiewniki, Krakow. The Divine Mercy complex encompasses the original convent and chapel where the visionary, Sister Faustina received the Divine Mercy devotions but it also includes a new Basilica, viewing tower, conference centre, an adoration chapel, and related buildings. The invitation was also kindly extended by the organisers, to my wife Philomena to accompany me on the trip.

Friday 10th October
We had an early flight (which meant rising at 4.30am) and arrived at the Lagiewniki Centre in the early afternoon. We were immediately able to join in the Divine Mercy three o’clock devotions which were followed by Mass and a walk around the buildings within the shrine. When we returned to the pastoral centre we were warmly welcomed by Dr. Pawel Wosicki President of the Polish Federation and Dr.Antoni Zieba Vice President and introduced to other members of the federation who had arrived in the meantime.

Saturday 11th October
The conference was attended by about 300 delegates from all over Poland. The morning session looked at the protection of life, first internationally at United Nations level, at EU level, and finally in Poland. In my presentation on the international position I quoted an extract from a speech by Pope John Paul II who warned against a
‘new ideology of evil, perhaps more insidious and hidden than its predecessors, which attempts to pit even human rights against the family and against man’.
Pope John Paul’s statement sets out what I have experienced over the years at the UN. I witnessed an agenda clearly contrary to natural law being promoted and used to create new so-called rights. It was clear to me that this was and is a battlefront and what is at stake, is our entire way of life. Christian morality based on natural law is being rejected in favour of positivism and moral relativism. A whole new interpretation of human rights is being carefully put in place in what appears to be the single largest project in social engineering ever to be perpetrated on mankind and this is being done on a global scale.

Konrad Szymanski MEP addressed the conference regarding the impact of the EU on the protection of human life and Marek Jurek discussed the current situation in Poland.
Professor Bogdan Chazan addressed the conference on the problems associated with IVF and a young couple Michal and Agnieszka Pietrusinscy gave an excellent presentation on naprotechnology as a real alternative to IVF.

Mass was celebrated by his Excellency Bishop Stanislawa Stefaneka who attended the conference.

On Saturday afternoon during the workshops we were given a delightful and interesting guided tour of Krakow city centre by a charming young woman Alicija Babkiewicz, which included visits to the castle, the cathedral and the Bishop's palace where Pope John Paul 11 spent the 18 years prior to his elevation to the Papacy.

Sunday 12th October
The conference drew to a close with addresses by Dr. Wanda Poltawska, Dr. Antoni Zieba and federation president Dr Pawel Wosicki. Dr Wosicki looked at the mission and programme of the federation in today’s world.

The conference was followed by a pilgrimage to Wadowic the home town of Pope John Paul 11 which was celebrating that day the 30th anniversary of his election to the chair of St Peter. This part of the pilgrimage included a tour of the house in which John Paul 11 grew up and a visit to the church in which he was baptised. We then visited Kalwaria (CALVARY) Zebrzydowska a Bernardine monastery which has a famous way of the cross and which was also a place of pilgrimage for the family of Pope John Paul 11. We were very ably assisted during the pilgrimage by Dariusz Hybel who proved to be a mine of information. The autumn weather throughout the weekend was glorious, and according to Dariusz such conditions are known in Poland as a "Polish golden autumn", we would call it an "Indian summer"