Rome (Fides Service) – “John Paul II: 25 years of Pontificate – The Church at the Service of Mankind” is the theme of a three day symposium which opened on May 8 at the Pontifical Lateran University. Among those present in the Aula Magna cardinals, archbishops, bishops, academics, ambassadors, teaching staff and students of the University. The symposium was opened by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican Secretary of State, who said that this event of reflection and study to understand the historical importance of this pontificate at the turn of a century, is the first major event planned on occasion of the 25th anniversary of the election of Pope John Paul II, which will be celebrated on October 16.
“It is not easy to identify a key of interpretation which keeps united the wealth of the teaching of John Paul II and his multiform activity in these 25 years of Pontificate” said Archbishop Rino Fisichella, Magnificent Rector of the Lateran, when he presented the symposium. “An attempt at interpretation can be the title we gave to this meeting: The Church at the Service of Mankind.” The Archbishop then underlined the themes on which the three interventions will focus: the personal history and ministry of Karol Wojtyla as professor, bishop (Krakow and Rome, Lublin and the Lateran): the pastoral activity of John Paul II and the teaching of 25 years of pontificate; centres of pastoral interest which allow one to grasp the activity of John Paul II both in the life of the Church and in the vicissitudes of the world (the mystery of holiness, mission and ecumenism. Youth, new evangelisation…) “It is fitting that the Pope’s own university should celebrate this particular jubilee – said Archbishop Fisichella -. It does so in conformity with what is peculiar to it: a moment of reflection and study.”
The Secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, Archbishop Stanislaw Rylko then spoke on the theme “Krakow and Rome: two Sister Churches”. The Pontificate of Pope John Paul II cannot be understood unless one is familiar with the roots of his episcopal ministry in Krakow, affirmed Mons. Rylko. “In his ministry there is organic continuity between Krakow and Rome and certainly no fracture” but then Krakow is called “Poland’s Rome”. Bishop Wojtyla took inspiration from Saint Stanislaw, “the shepherd who offers his life for his flock”. The important themes of commitment for life, marriage, family; respect for religious freedom, formation of youth, parish visitation, were the pillars of the activity of Karol Wojtyla in Krakow and later in his pastoral ministry as Bishop of Rome. Another aspect underlined by Archbishop Rylko was connected with Vatican II: “Karol Wojtyla is a Bishop of the Council in the fullest sense”: both because he took an active part in the council assemblies and because the entire pastoral orientation of his ministry has found its principal source in the documents emanated by the Council.SL (Fides Service 8/5/2003 EM lines 35 Words: 499)