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Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, St. John Paul II's personal secretary and now archbishop of Krakow
Natalia Dueholm Natalia Dueholm

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Polish cardinal hopes Krakow World Youth Day will spark moral revival in Europe

Natalia Dueholm Natalia Dueholm

KRAKOW, Poland, May 16, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Krakow’s Cardinal Stanisław Dziwisz, head of the archdiocese organizing World Youth Day this summer, says he hopes the event will help spark a religious and moral revival in Europe.

Earlier this month, the cardinal discussed the situation in Poland and the state of Europe with foreign correspondents covering preparations for World Youth Day.

“Europe has deep Christian roots. If we cut these roots, the tree will die,'' he said. ''We are fighting to safeguard moral values and Christian roots, the foundation of Europe. We must be able to protect ourselves from destructive tendencies, even if Europe accuses us of being destructive.''

The 31st World Youth Day is scheduled for the week of July 26-31 July in Cracow. The event was started by the Pope John Paul II, who spent most of his life in Cracow before becoming the pope. The place is also known as the center of the Divine Mercy devotion, inspired by Saint Faustina Kowalska, who was born in the area. The theme of the World Youth Day is “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy” (Matthew 5:7).

The archdiocese of Cracow expects millions of pilgrims from all over the world, including up to two million for a Mass celebrated by Pope Francis. About 6,000 journalists, both from Poland and abroad, will cover the events.

In his meeting with the reporters, Cardinal Dziwisz also spoke about the state of the Roman Catholic Church in Poland. He touched on some problems, for example decreasing mass attendance in different regions. However, he denied that the Church is facing a crisis. He nonetheless mentioned worryingly low birth rates in Poland, which he attributed to Poles’ mentality rather than poverty.

The Polish government, for one, seems to blame falling birth rates in part to financial insecurity. To address this problem, it recently passed a law providing a monthly allowance of 500 zł ($135) for every child after the firstborn.

Cardinal Dziwisz went on to address criticism of the Polish government. The conservative ruling Law and Justice Party is constantly under fire in foreign press.

 “This is a free and sovereign country, that safeguards its freedom both in terms of ethics and politics,'' he said. 

For almost 40 years Dziwisz was an aide and secretary to now-canonized Pope John Paul II. During John Paul II’s papacy, Dziwisz became one of the most influential figures in the Vatican. He is an outspoken defender of traditional marriage, the family, and the unborn. On numerous occasions, he spoke against in-vitro fertilization, gender ideology, and abortion.

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