PM, Cabinet honour Pole who became pope 40 years ago
PR dla Zagranicy
Poland’s government on Tuesday paid tribute to John Paul II, the late Polish-born pope who headed the Roman Catholic Church from 1978 to 2005.
Photo: PAP/Tomasz Gzell
Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and his Cabinet ministers laid flowers at the Papal Cross in a central square in Warsaw to mark 40 years since Polish Cardinal Karol Wojtyła was elected Pope John Paul II.
Warsaw’s Piłsudski Square is where the late pontiff once told his compatriots during a homily: "Let your Spirit descend and renew the face of the earth, the face of this land!"
Those words uttered by Pope John Paul II during his first pilgrimage to his native country on June 2, 1979 sent a powerful message to the Polish people at a time when the nation was still under communism.
Though couched in biblical language, the pope's words were interpreted by many as encouragement not to lose hope under the hardships and oppression of Poland's communist regime. Just over a year later, the Solidarity freedom movement was born in the country.
In 1981, the pope was shot and seriously wounded in an assassination attempt at St. Peter's Square in the Vatican.
A host of events was on Sunday held throughout the country as Poles remembered John Paul II on what is known as Papal Day.
John Paul II served as pope from October 16, 1978 until his death on April 2, 2005.
He was the third longest-serving pontiff in history and was declared a saint in 2014.
The pope, who visited 129 countries during his pontificate, was a strong supporter of Poland's anti-communist Solidarity movement. He is recognised as a key influence in helping to end communist rule in Poland in 1989.
Forty years after Karol Wojtyła became Pope John Paul II, 92 percent of adults in Poland say the late pontiff remains a moral authority for them.