St. John Paul II Patron of Europe

Cardinal Stanisław Dziwisz appealed on October 20, 2017, during the solemn opening of the Congress “Europe of Christ” in Czestochowa, to proclaim John Paul II as the patron saint of Europe.

Kardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, Foto: ©Mazur/

Source (Polnisch):  Link

We present the translation of the full text of the speech:

John Paul II is considered a heavenly patron of various human projects and states. He is a pope of human rights, guardian of family happiness, spiritual advisor of the youth, leader and master of the academic environment, giver of ideas and supernatural animator of the New Evangelization, so much needed especially in secular Europe.

On the paths of the present, the affairs of Europe, in which he was educated and in which he developed his pastoral activity until death, were very close to his heart. He experienced its dramas and spiritual dilemmas, but also cared that all people of good will build unity on the continent, from the Atlantic to the Urals. We believe that today “from the house of the Heavenly Father” he continues to help the European community with his inspired wisdom to make difficult decisions, to encourage daily fidelity to God and man, to intercede with God in all our needs, and to entrust us to His mercy.

We know that during the Second Vatican Council, Pope Paul VI declared St. Benedict of Nursia as the Patron Saint of Europe. John Paul II was also convinced of the fact that Europe needs support from above and therefore proclaimed their five patron saints of Europe: Saints Cyril and Methodius, St. Catherine of Siena, St. Bridget of Sweden and St. Sister Therese Benedict of the Cross (Edith Stein). Today, when the Old Continent is experiencing a great crisis of values and is facing new, hitherto unknown challenges, it becomes necessary to widen this circle. The Holy Father always stood up for the unchanging and universal values that are the bulwark of European civilization. He had recognized its undeniable contribution to the unification of the Old Continent, and in his teaching he aptly diagnosed threats facing its inhabitants today, showing at the same time that the only source of hope, salvation and effective healing is the mercy of God, as well as the return to the example of the Gospel, which had formed the basis of European culture. Therefore, it is a legitimate desire of many Christians to entrust Europe, its spiritual heritage and the destiny of its sons and daughters, to God, the Lord of history, to the intercession of John Paul II.

John Paul II – His Vision of Europe

John Paul II had his vision of Europe. For him, the first foundation of the unity of Europe lies in the pedagogy of forgiveness. Two world wars, which took place mainly on this continent, caused great suffering. There are still many unhealed wounds in Europe today and the present is creating new injustices. The pedagogy of forgiveness is so important because the person who forgives and asks for forgiveness understands that a greater truth than himself exists. And by accepting forgiveness, he can grow beyond himself. There is no Europe without forgiveness and reconciliation, thus without solving the problems of the past. The thesis of some European politicians that we should leave the problems of the past alone and concentrate on the present and the future is wrong. On the one hand, reconciliation is linked to the fulfillment of certain conditions: confession of guilt, regret that evil has been done, and the desire to right the wrong. On the other hand, John Paul II writes in his encyclical “Dives in Misericordia” that those who forgive, following the example of the merciful father, should show mercy to the prodigal son, so that the one who receives mercy does not feel humiliated, but recovered and appreciated (cf . DiM, 6).

According to John Paul II, Europe cannot only refer to the past, but must also reflect on its present and future. After years of conflicts and wars, Europeans must find a way to a new unity, far from any form of unification, which values and integrates precisely the richness in its diversity. The prerequisite for shaping an optimistic present and future of the European continent is, in addition to the pedagogy of forgiveness, the discovery and affirmation of one’s own identity. Memory is the force that creates the identity of human existence, both on a personal and collective level. That is why in the life of societies and nations the correct, that is true, historical policy is so important.

Identity is determined not only by memories of one’s past, but also by permanent and timeless points of reference. On the national level, these are proven religious and moral values, but also symbolic values such as the slogan “God, honor, homeland,” signs and symbols – the national flag, national coat of arms, or state and religious ceremonies and festivals. An example of how to transfer historical reference points into the future was given by John Paul II himself when he exclaimed on Westerplatte: “Each of you, young friends, will find in his life a Westerplatte – a task he must undertake and fulfill. Something good for which you must not give up the struggle. A task, an obligation from which one must not deviate, “desert”. Last but not least, an order of truths and values that one must “preserve” and “defend”, as this Westerplatte, in oneself and in one’s environment.”

In personal, social and national life, John Paul II has in a particular way valorized certain primacies. These are: the primacy of the person over the object, the primacy of the spirit over matter, the primacy of “being more” over “possessing more,” the primacy of work over capital, the primacy of ethics over technology, the primacy of mercy over justice, and the primacy of dialogue over struggle. St. John Paul II, through the above-mentioned primacies, orders the world of values and tasks in everyday life, because without certain principles, human life would lead to dangerous chaos both for man himself and for the environment in which he lives.


John Paul II’s Contribution to the Development of European Civilization

When we speak about the contribution of John Paul II to the development of Europe, it must be emphasized that he contributed above all to the fall of communism on our continent. We remember his symbolic walk through the Brandenburg Gate with Chancellor Helmut Kohl. Helmut Kohl told us (…) when he was walking through the Brandenburg Gate with John Paul II on June 23, 1996, how the Pope suddenly grabbed him by the arm and said: “Mr. Chancellor, this is a very significant moment in my life. I am standing with you, the Chancellor of Germany at the Brandenburg Gate and this gate is open. The wall has fallen. Berlin and Germany are united. And Poland is free.” No one can deny that Pope John Paul II made a decisive contribution to these epochal changes in Germany and Europe.[1]

Of particular importance, John Paul II consistently reiterated that both Nazism and Communism committed a fundamental anthropological error: they were obsessive ideologies that violated the dignity of the human person. For these ideologies, the individual perception of truth presents itself only as a consequence of socio-civilizational conditionings. Liberal individualism also errs in separating human freedom from obedience to truth, which consequently absolves one from the obligation to respect the rights of others (cf. CE 17).

There is no doubt that John Paul II, as he emphasized on several occasions, favored a Europe of homeland states and did not see Europe as a federal state. There is a deeper reason for this position. In a Europe of home states the path of qualitative development is chosen, in a Europe as a federal state – the path of procedural development. The procedural approach to reality leads not only to the politics of silence, but also to political correctness, bureaucratization of life and a crisis of values. John Paul II warned that a democracy without values can sooner or later turn into open or disguised totalitarianism. [2]

It is noteworthy how John Paul II sees the role of Poland in a united Europe. The process of European unification should be seen in a personalistic rather than a reistic way, which means that the united Europe should ensure the development of people and not hand people over to the indeterminate development of Europe.[3]

The Polish Pope had a clear and decisive conviction regarding Europe – according to Archbishop Jean-Louis Tauran […]. The Pope repeatedly emphasized these values in his teachings: the dignity of the person, the sanctity of human life, the centrality of the family based on marriage, the importance of education, freedom of thought religious freedom, protection of the rights of individuals and social groups, work perceived as a social and personal good, the exercise of political power understood as a service.[4] All these demands fall into the categories of human rights to which everyone has a right, but must also be understood as an obligation to others. In the secular world, Christians, including Polish Christians, should give a clear testimony of faith, especially to Europe. Such a certificate, as John Paul II wrote in the Apostolic Exhortation “Ecclesia in Europa”, is especially necessary in a situation of anti-evangelization, which manifests itself through planned imposition of an anthropology without God and without Christ (cf .. EiE, 9).

John Paul II sees Poland in a united Europe in a double sense. First, as antemurale christianitatis – bulwark of Christianity. The role of this bulwark can be seen in the context of his book “The Sign of Contradiction”. The task of Christians is not only to oppose evil, but also to fight with man for humanity.[5] This man often does not see that he has become an enemy to himself. Poland’s second task in the European Union is to become a bridge of humanity – pons humanitatis, to promote authentic values and noble habits, to raise cultural standards, to implement charity according to the Gospel. In the first case, it is a model in which – one could say – the heroic and militant paradigm is inscribed. The conviction that the special destiny, duty and glory of the Poles has always been loyalty and defense.[6] The second case is a cultural model whose nobility consists in creating specific assimilation mechanisms. The mechanisms thanks to which people of different cultures, languages and religions could live side by side. Mechanisms, whose diversity elsewhere led to conflicts, were here transformed into an extremely fruitful whole.[7] Pope John Paul II recalled in Wloclawek on June 7, 1991, that the mission of Blessed Father Jerzy Popiełuszko was not a political message, but an ethical one.[8] The Church in Poland also has a great role to fulfill in defending and promoting ethical values, in Europe, which is struggling with many crises.

Reasons for proclaiming St. John Paul II as the Patron Saint of Europe

There are a number of arguments in favor of making efforts to proclaim St. John Paul II as the Patron Saint of Europe. The merits of St. John Paul II in preserving the moral order and development of our continent are indisputable. He always stressed that the European community should be a “community of the spirit, in which one bears the heavy burdens of the other”, and that human rights should be respected in both personal and national dimensions. Europe is currently facing great challenges: the ideological crisis, the demographic breakdown, the undermining of the natural function of the family and the migration problem require prudent and far-sighted decisions. Europe, especially at this point in its history, needs supernatural help and the example of the saints, because left to herself, she may not be able to meet the challenges. There is probably no more contemporary saint who understands our times better than John Paul II.

The postmodern situation in Europe has caused a relativization of values, moral permissiveness and emotional apathy of many people. Authorities are destroyed, people are deprived of their points of reference, the world has become devoid of hope, therefore people often live as if God did not exist [9] John Paul II wrote: “It is very important to cross the threshold of hope, not to stop in front of it, but to let oneself be led. [10] John Paul II always gave hope back to the people. In such a situation, the patronage of the saint, who was already familiar with all kinds of human affairs during his lifetime, could prove to be particularly helpful and desirable.


1.  Jan Paweł II a Niemcy – – (dostęp: 03. 10. 2017, godz. 16. 10)

2.  Por. Jan Paweł II, Przemówienie wygłoszone w Parlamencie – Warszawa 11 czerwca 1999 – w: Jan Paweł II, Pielgrzymki do Ojczyzny: 1979, 1983, 1987, 1991, 1995, 1997, 1999. Przemówienia, homilie, Kraków 1999, s. 1085

3.  Por. Unia europejska, jako historyczne wyzwanie dla Polski – w: Polska i Kościół w procesie integracji europejskiej, [red. J. Piasecka], Warszawa 1998, s. 213

4.  J.L. Tauran, Stolica Apostolska a budowanie Europy – w:Modernizacja i wiara. Rola Kościoła w procesie integracji europejskiej, [red. .R. Budnik, M. Góra] Gliwice 2002, s. 83 i 86

5.  Por. K. Wojtyła, Znak sprzeciwu, Kraków 1995, s. 153

6.  S. Sowiński, Polska w zjednoczonej Europie – w: S. Sowiński, R. Zenderowski, Europa drogą Koscioła…, dz. cyt., s. 171

7.  Tamże, s. 171 n.

8.  Homilia w czasie Mszy świętej odprawionej na lotnisku aeroklubu – Włocławek 7 czerwca 1991 – w: tamże, s. 254

9. Por. Jan Paweł ii, Homilia w czasie Mszy św. beatyfikacyjnej Anieli Salawy, odprawionej na Rynku Głównym –(Kraków 13 sierpnia 1991 ) – w: Jan Paweł II, Pielgrzymki do Ojczyzny…, dz. cyt., s. 782

10.  Jan Paweł II, Przekroczyć próg nadziei, Lublin 1994, s. 163


Foto: EpiskopatNews, ©Mazur/, Pałac Biskupi w Krakowie Franciszkańska 3, Creative Common  Licence

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