The Holy Father has sent a video message to the Polish faithful, compatriots of Pope John Paul II, and a written message to the citizens of Bergamo, the province in which the village of “Sotto il Monte”, birthplace of Pope John XXIII, is located.
In his video message, rebroadcast by Polish Television (TVP) and by Polish Radio, the Pope remarks that he is happy to be able to proclaim John Paul II a saint, and expresses his gratitude to the Polish Pope for his “tireless service, is spiritual guidance, for bringing the Church into the third millennium of faith, and for his extraordinary witness of holiness”.
Francis recalls the words Pope Benedict XVI used to describe Pope Wojtyla in the homily of his beatification in May 2011: “society, culture, political and economic systems he opened up to Christ, turning back with the strength of a titan – a strength which came to him from God – a tide which appeared irreversible. By his witness of faith, love and apostolic courage, accompanied by great human charisma, this exemplary son of Poland helped believers throughout the world not to be afraid to be called Christian, to belong to the Church, to speak of the Gospel. In a word: he helped us not to fear the truth, because truth is the guarantee of liberty”.
In his message to the citizens of Bergamo, published in the daily newspaper “L'Eco di Bergamo” with which Pope Roncalli collaborated during the years of his priesthood, he invites them to “give thanks to God for his holiness, a great gift to the universal Church”, and he encourages them to “conserve the memory of the land in which it germinated: a land of profound faith lived in daily life, in families that are poor but united by the love of the Lord, of communities capable of sharing in simplicity”.
The Holy Father comments that “the renewal brought by Vatican Council II opened up the way, and it is a special joy that the canonisation of Pope Roncalli should take place alongside that of Blessed John Paul II, who continued this renewal during his long pontificate”.
He expresses his hope that “civil society too may always draw inspiration from the life of Bergamo's Pope and from the environment that he generated, searching new ways, adapted to the times, of building co-existence based on the perennial values of fraternity and solidarity”.