Cardinal Józef Glemp, Primate of Poland, celebrated a special Mass in London organised by the Polish Catholic Mission in England and Wales on Saturday, May 21, to mark the 60th anniversary of the end of the Second World War, writes Peter Jennings.
The Memorial Mass, at Brompton Oratory, was attended by diplomats and representatives of many Polish organisations.
The concelebrants included Archbishop Szczepan Wesoly, Mgr Tadeusz Kukla, vicar delegate for Poles in England and Wales, and Fr Anthony Wilcox, parish priest of Henley-on-Thames, representing Archbishop Vincent Nichols.
Ex-combatants carrying banners, Scout groups and young people in colourful national dress took part in the procession. The inspirational music during the Mass was lead by the Ave Verum Polish choir from Croydon.
In his homily, delivered in Polish, Cardinal Glemp reflected on the role of the Catholic Church in Poland in the aftermath of the Second World War. He said that the War had been a terrible time for Poland. “The liberation had not been what we had expected or worked for,” he said.
The 75-year old Archbishop of Warsaw described the election of Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, Archbishop of Krakow, as Pope John Paul II, on October 16, 1978, as “a great turning point and a great inspiration”.
Cardinal Glemp praised the Polish community in Britain. He said: “I am very happy to see the banners of the veteran combatant associations, but was also encouraged to see the flags of the youth groups – who represent the future.” Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, president of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, arrived towards the end of the Mass from Westminster Cathedral where he had just ordained a young Polish priest.
He paid tribute to Polish people who had settled in Britain. He said: “You have been such a blessing. How welcome you are. Your faith is an enrichment to the faith of the Church.” The two cardinals gave a joint blessing in Latin at the end of Mass on a memorable day for the Polish community.