Vatican City, May 18, 2004 / 22:00 pm
“Through the centuries, Europe’s spiritual and cultural patrimony was formed and defended even at the cost of the lives of those who believe in Christ and those who in their religious belief go back to Abraham,” said the Holy Father yesterday evening on receiving Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski, his wife and an entourage of fellow Poles, on the occasion of his 84th birthday.
His remarks were in reference to Polish heroism and sacrifice at the Battle of Monte Cassino of which yesterday was the 60th anniversary. “Every Pole recalls with pride that battle which, thanks to the heroism of the army commanded by General Anders, opened the path to liberation for the allies and for the defeat of the nazi invaders,” said the Pope. “At Monte Cassino’s military cemetery there are tombs with Christian and Greek crosses as well as stones marked with the Star of David. Fallen heroes rest there, joined together by the ideal of fighting for ‘our and your freedom’, that includes not only love for one’s homeland, but also concern for the political and spiritual independence of other nations. Everyone feels the duty to oppose at all costs the physical overpowering of individuals and nations, but also attempts to annihilate their traditions, their culture and their spiritual identity.”
He underscored that “Poland cannot forget this and must remind those who…in the name of the secular nature of democratic societies, seem to forget the contribution of Christianity in building their own identity.”