Cardinal Stefan Wysznski
The modern world needs to be reminded of the great truth that men are called for eternal life and that their life does not end here, on earth. Our faith in eternal life has a very important meaning: it teaches us to respect men. We must always remember that man is the most important, most precious, most splendid work of God.
The excerpt is from the homily delivered by Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński, the Primate of Poland, on May 24, 1964, at the tomb of the Servant of God Fr. Stanislaus Papczyński in Góra Kalwaria near Warsaw.
Cardinal Wysyznski was a very significant person during the Cold War. He became the Primate of Poland when made a cardinal in 1953 by Pope Pius XII.
Additionally he will be known historically as the mentor of Pope John Paul II. Cardinal Wysynski proposed Karol Wojtyla to be an auxiliary bishop in Poland.
Karol Wojtyla became Pope John Paul II.
Throughout Wojtyla’s life he was his mentor and his partner.
Stefan Wyszynski was born in a village called Zuzela on August 3, 1901, in what was then Russian territory due to the partitions of the late 18th century. At that time the Russian Empire had attempted to make the Polish people abandon their traditions and national awareness. His mother died when he was nine years of age. In 1912 his father sent him to Warsaw to complete his education. He enrolled in seminary and was ordained on his twenty-fourth birthday in 1924.
The next four years were spent in Lublin where he earned a doctoral degree in Canon Law and Social Sciences. Upon graduation he traveled extensively in Europe furthering his education. He then taught at the seminary in Wloclawek. His life changed dramatically with the onset of World War II in 1939 and with the Warsaw Uprising of 1944. At first he assumed pastoral duties for working class people, but eventually he became chaplain to members of the resistance movement. After the war, Wyszynski started a restoration project for the devastated seminary, became its rector and editor of a Catholic periodical.
On March 25th, 1946, Pope Pius XII appointed him Bishop of Lublin and on November 12, 1948, Archbishop of Warsaw. His life was filled with political upheaval. While the war had ended in 1944, a large segment of Poland was engaged in hostilities with the Stalinist government. The Catholic Church actively supported the anti-Communist government. In 1950 Wyszynski signed an agreement with the civil authorities that allowed the Church to hold property, separated church and state, prohibited religious teaching in public schools and allowed for civil authorities to select a bishop from three candidates. In 1953, more persecution swept Poland. When bishops supported the resistance, mass trials and imprisonment of priests began and Cardinal Wyszynski was among them. In 1953, he began his imprisonment in various locations enduring brutal torture and mistreatment, some highly perverse in nature. He was released in 1956.
Pope Pius XII elevated him to the rank of cardinal on January 12, 1953. He never stopped his religious and social work, the crowning achievement of which was the celebration of Poland’s Millennium of Christianity in 1966, the thousandth anniversary of the baptism of Poland’s first prince, Mieszko I. The Communist authorities refused to allow Pope Paul VI to visit Poland, and they prevented Cardinal Wyszynski from attending any celebrations outside of Poland connected to the millennium. In 1978, his brother bishop, Karol Wojtyla of Krakow became Pope John Paul II. Though sometimes at odds with each other, he will be known historically as the mentor of John Paul II. Cardinal Wysznski proposed Karol Wojtyla to be an auxiliary bishop in Poland.
Cardinal Wyszynski worked hard during the Solidarity movement in Poland, appealing to the government and the striking workers to be responsible for their actions.
Cardinal Wyszynski, the Primate of the Millennium died on May 28th, 1981. He was seventy-nine years of age.
When Karol Wojtyla was archbishop of Krakow, another cardinal was a hero of resistance against communist totalitarianism in Poland. It was his friend Stefan Wyszynski, archbishop of Warsaw.
Pope Francis has officially recognized Wyszynski’s demonstration of “heroic virtues.”
It was the first important step in the canonization process.
And on June 7, 2020, he will become Blessed Stefan Wyszyski!
Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski participated in the two conclaves in 1978 and helped elect John Paul II.
The Beatification of Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski
.- Venerable Stefan Wyszyński, Archbishop of Gniezno and Warsaw from 1948 to 1981, will be beatified in Warsaw June 7, 2020, the city’s archbishop announced Monday.
“We have to put the main emphasis on his spirituality, because we know a lot more about Cardinal Wyszyński as a statesman and someone who defended man, the Church, and his homeland,” Cardinal Kazimierz Nycz of Warsaw said Oct. 21.
The beatification will take place in Warsaw’s Piłsudski Square.
“Cardinal Wyszyński was the rock around which Polish Catholicism rallied during the worst periods of communist oppression,” George Weigel told CNA Oct. 22.
Wyszyński “also designed the ‘Great Novena,’ the re-catechesis of the entire country between 1957 and 1966, which laid the religious and moral foundations on which the Solidarity movement was later built,” he said.
Wyszyński was instrumental in the appointment of Karol Wojtyla as Archbishop of Krakow in 1964.
“Wyszyński and Wojtyla had different visions of the Church – Wojtyla was much more the man of Vatican II – but as Archbishop of Kracow Wojtyla was completely loyal to Wyszyński, never letting the communists play divide-and-conquer,” Weigel said.
“And there is no doubt that Wojtyla shared Wyszyński’s view that the Vatican ‘Ostpolitik’ strategy of accommodating communist regimes was serious foolishness,” he added.
Wyszyński is credited with helping to conserve Christianity in Poland during communist rule.
He was placed under house arrest by communist authorities for three years for refusing to punish priests active in the Polish resistance against the government.
“The fear of an apostle is the first ally of his enemies,” Wyszyński wrote in his notes while under arrest. “The lack of courage is the beginning of defeat for a bishop,” he wrote.
The Vatican announced approval of a miracle attributed to Wyszynski’s intercession Oct. 3.
The miracle involved the healing of a 19 year-old woman from thyroid cancer in 1989. After the young woman received the incurable diagnosis, a group of Polish nuns began praying for her healing through the intercession of Cardinal Wyszyński, who had died of abdominal cancer in 1981.
Born in the village of Zuzela in what was then the Russian Empire in 1901, Wyszyński was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Włocławek at age 24, celebrating his first Mass at the Jasna Gora Shrine in Czestochowa. He served as a military chaplain during the Warsaw uprising against the Germans in 1944, and was made Bishop of Lublin in 1946.
In 1948 he was appointed Archbishop of Gniezno and Warsaw, and he was elevated to cardinal in 1953.
Wyszynski died 15 days after Pope John Paul II was shot in an assassination attempt in 1981. Unable to attend the funeral, John Paul II wrote in a letter to the people of Poland, “Meditate particularly on the figure of the unforgettable primate, Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski of venerated memory, his person, his teaching, his role in such a difficult period of our history.”