Polish Defenders of Free Speech Journey to Rome (Part 2)

Radio Maria Founder Comments on Pilgrimage and Challenges in Homeland

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ROME, NOV. 15, 2012 (Zenit.org).- At last week's Wednesday general audience, some 5,000 Polish pilgrims were part of the crowd -- pilgrims united by their support for radio and TV stations in Poland that are fighting for their right to survive and expand.

Radio Maria listeners and Trwam Television viewers enjoyed during their pilgrimage a Mass celebrated near St. Peter's tomb by the Pope's secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, and Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education. More than a dozen bishops from Poland joined in, including Archbishop Waclaw Depo of Częstochowa, president of the Polish bishops' Commission for Social Communications. 

They came as pilgrims eager to show Polish support for Benedict XVI, but also with the hope that their presence would bring light to the fact that free speech is under threat in Poland, and that eminent Catholics who refuse to bow to the dictatorship of the "politically correct" and to the dominant mentality of relativism are being discriminated against.

ZENIT spoke about these difficult issues with the Polish Redemptorist, Father Tadeusz Rydzyk, founder and director of Radio Maria in his country.

Part 1 of this interview was published on Wednesday, Nov.14, 2012:

For years Benedict XVI has denounced the phenomenon of Christianophobia in Europe. It no longer takes the form of physical persecution but it’s become more subtle. In his message for the 2011World Day of Peace, the Pope said: "I also express my hope that in the West, and especially in Europe, there will be an end to hostility and prejudice against Christians because they are resolved to orient their lives in a way consistent with the values and principles expressed in the Gospel”.

Father Rydzyk: The problem for us is that we think of communism as a system that’s over, when actually it’s only assumed other guises. Today they don’t call themselves communists, but the dominant ideology is still the same - far from God, and all too often against God and against the Church.

ZENIT: The Polish Communists have accomplished what might be called “a leopard's mission to change his spots”, i.e. "you change everything, in order not to change anything” …

Father Rydzyk: That's right. The physical persecution is over now, but other forms of discrimination are used. Parliament has decided to raise the fee for TV licenses to 26 million euro and to add an additional 10 million euro per year for frequency expenditures. These are enormous sums that we won’t be able to pay. And the President signed this freedom bill.  But what’s even more worrying is that the government will be able to decide, case by case, whether to increase or lower these rates. This means that government officials will be able to show favoritism to certain broadcasters and discriminate against others. If we, as Catholic publishers, follow the Church’s teaching, such as the defense of unborn life, we are unfavorably looked upon and are discriminated against. The same holds true for the Church’s social teaching: if we denounce utilitarianism or criticize the dismantling of the national health system, which in practice deprives citizens of the right to seek healthcare treatment, then we become ‘inconvenient’ and are discriminated against.

But we don’t give up. The document “Aetatis Novae” issued by the Pontifical Council for Social Communications instructs us that the Church must have media at its service to give voice to all those who otherwise wouldn’t have one. Unfortunately, in our own day people who are seeking and wish to proclaim the truth often don’t have a voice.

ZENIT: I would like to ask you a delicate question: it’s been said that not all the members of the Polish Bishop’s Conference support Maria Radio and TV Trwam. Is that true?

Father Rydzyk: Our strength is God and the people - our millions of listeners and viewers. But there is also a great deal of support and encouragement that comes from the Polish Bishops. The entire Episcopate has three times demanded a space on the digital platform for our television station. They have thanked both Radio Maria and TV Trwam more than once for all they do, and they have expressed their appreciation for our commitment to evangelization.

I remember once before, when government officials wanted to destroy us. It seemed like the end. During that dramatic situation, the Bishops assembled in the monastery of Jasna Gora in Czestochowa. They came to our defense and thanked Radio Maria for its role in the evangelization of Poland. John Paul II supported us continually: if it were not for him and his help, Radio Maria would have disappeared. Today we feel the closeness of Benedict XVI, who sent us a message of gratitude and encouragement on the 20th anniversary of Radio Maria.


Cardinal Stanislwa Dziwisz recently said, during the celebration of the Holy Mass for the Radio Maria Family in the parish of Radziszowice: "We regret that the great events concerning the Church are not broadcast by the public media, but there is Maria Radio and TV Trwam, and I want to thank them for this. I hope they will have the permissions they need. It is inconceivable that there are some who, by means of decrees, want to eliminate those who think differently from themselves. We need to respect the rights of society, and the rights of the millions of people who listen to Radio Maria and watch TV Trwam. This is my opinion and I hope it is also the opinion of many."

I wanted to emphasize that, in the world that proclaims media pluralism and freedom of expression, Radio Maria wants to exist only in order to serve the Church and make known her doctrine.

Tomorrow, on November 7th, you and 5 thousand other pilgrims will be in Rome: What is the purpose of the Family of Radio Maria’s pilgrimage to the Vatican?

Father Rydzyk: We are making the pilgrimage to Rome, ad limina Apostolorum, in order to confess our faith before the Holy Father Benedict XVI, the Peter of our times. There will only be a few thousand of us, but many others will follow our pilgrimage, the Holy Mass in St. Peter's Basilica and the audience with Benedict XVI through Radio Maria and TV Trwam broadcasts. We will be praying that God grant to us all, to our loved ones, and to all the people of Poland and the world a living faith, a true faith.

[Translation by Diane Montagna]

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On ZENIT's Web page:

Part 1: http://www.zenit.org/article-35952?l=english