"In the spirit of responsibility for the present and the future of our Churches and peoples, urged by pastoral concern, on behalf of the Catholic Church in Poland and of the Russian Orthodox Church we address this message of reconciliation to the faithful of our Churches, to our nations and all people of good will," they declared.
They affirmed a desire to work for "rapprochement between our Churches and reconciliation between our nations."
The statement acknowledged the long Christian history that both nations share, which has had a significant impact on the identity of their peoples. It also expressed a desire to "heal the wounds of the past, facilitate our overcoming mutual prejudice and misunderstanding and strengthen us in our pursuit of reconciliation."
Sin is the main source of all divisions, the two leaders stated. The divisions between Christians are not only "alien to Christ’s will" they said, but are also "a major scandal."
Consequently they declared a strengthening of efforts to bring their Churches and nations closer together and to be "more credible witnesses to the Gospel in the contemporary world."
Fraternal dialogue, they stated, is the way toward a renewal of Christian identity after the attempts in both nations to impose atheism.
Reconciliation means being ready to forgive for the wrongs and injustices in the past, although this does not mean forgetting what took place.
"To forgive, however, means to forgo revenge and hatred and to participate in the construction of concord and brotherhood between people, our nations and countries, which is the foundation of a peaceful future," the statement added.
Both Poland and Russia suffered in the Second World War and from repression by totalitarian regimes. Millions of people fell victim to the aggressions from atheist ideology and the event of the past have given rise to mutual resentments, the statement recognized.
"An objective recognition of facts and an account of the magnitude of the tragedies and dramas of the past is an urgent task for historians and specialists," they two Church leaders added..
Looking forward to the future that joint statement affirmed that throughout history Christianity has made an immense contribution to the both of their nations. Today, in an era of religious indifference and secularization it is important to make every effort so that the culture of their nations will not be short of moral values, which are essential to guarantee a peaceful future, the statement continued.
"The essential task of the Church until the end of time is the proclamation of the Gospel of Christ," they declared.
Today both Poland and Russia face new challenges, with traditional Christian teachings being questioned in the name of secularism or freedom. The statement deplored the promotion of abortion, euthanasia and same-sex marriage. Attempts are also being made to exclude the Church from public life and to remove religious symbols, they said.
"We look with sincere concern, hope and love to young people, whom we wish to protect from demoralisation and to educate in the spirit of the Gospel," they declared.
"We want to teach young people how to love God, their fellow human beings and the earthly homeland as well as to foster in them a spirit of Christian culture, which will bear fruit with respect, tolerance and justice," the statement concluded.
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