Prime Minister Mazowiecki was the first to arrive to Krzyżowa. He travelled to Wrocław by train and the remaining section of the route was covered by car. He appeared on the square in Krzyżowa half an hour before the Chancellor, who left Warsaw at night together with the accompanying delegation and journalists. Before reaching the square, the Chancellor and the Prime Minister went to St. Michael’s church adjacent to the walls of the property, where they had the perfect opportunity to take their time and pray, and to look at the specially prepared exhibition which presented the history of the Krzyżowa village and its most famous inhabitants. Having made an entry in the parish book, both representatives of the governments went to the square in the centre of the built-up area, where they were welcomed with a standing ovation by the faithful gathered on the square. The crowd chanted “Helmut!, Helmut!”. Also shouts to Prime Minister Mazowiecki could be heard from the crowd. Polish and German flags as well as numerous banners in Polish and German could be seen over the crowd. Before the altar, the guests were welcomed with bread and salt according to the old Polish tradition. The words of welcome to the gathered crowd were expressed by parish priest Bolesław Kałuża. Having taken their seats on the elevation of the altar, they waited for the beginning of the mass. The procession of the Polish and German clergymen moved towards the altar. The celebrated mass was presided over by Bishop Alfons Nossol. On the Polish side, the mass was concelebrated by parish priest Bolesław Kałuża and Vice Bishop Tadeusz Rybak – the representative of the Wrocław diocese. On the German side - Prelate Paul Bocklett and Adalbert Kurzeja (the Benedictine Abbot from Maria Laach).

As agreed, the mass was held in Polish and German. The faithful gathered on the square received brochures with prayers and chants in both languages. Owing to this, they could participate actively in the liturgy of the holy mass.

Prayer of the day

Almighty God, all nations are of common origin and constitute one family. Penetrate the hearts of all people with your love, and make them wish for the progress of their brothers, let the goods which you lavish upon the whole humanity serve the progress of every man, let all divisions in the human society disappear and let equality and justice prevail. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

The words of welcome to the gathered crowd were expressed by parish priest Bolesław Kałuża.

An introductory speech was given by Archbishop Tadeusz Rybak, emphasising how important it is for Christians to pray together and overcome the divide between man and God, as well as the divides between people and nations, bringing the gift of reconciliation and peace.

”I would like to welcome very warmly the Prime Minister, Mr. Tadeusz Mazowiecki, to whom we refer as ”our Prime Minister”, because he enjoys the trust of the Polish society and leads the country to those values for which our nation struggled for many years and which it wishes to follow. I would like to welcome all the present members of the Polish Government as well as those persons who accompany our Prime Minister”.

“It is our particular joy that we can, with great respect, welcome in this Christian community gathered here the Federal Chancellor, Mr. Helmut Kohl and all representatives of the German Nation who arrived in here together with Mr. Chancellor from the Federal Republic of Germany and who live in Poland on a permanent basis”.

”With all my heart I would like to welcome and greet You, Dear Countrymen, and would like to thank you that you have arrived in such great numbers to express our Polish solidarity in faith and in hope which cannot mislead us”.

Homily delivered on 12 November 1989 in Krzyżowa

”To walk together – reconciled in truth and love” - Bishop Alfons Nossol

In a homily prepared especially for this occasion, Bishop Nossol emphasises how important reconciliation is for both nations. He admits that the gift of mutual forgiveness may be the heroism, which must, however, be undertaken in accordance with the spirit of Christ in order to build a new chapter in mutual relations. He also paid attention to the fact that it is not possible to demand that World War II be forgotten as a dreadful chapter in the lives of many people. However, forgiveness is an essential requirement of the Christian faith and existence, therefore, we must cry sincerely “Forgive us our trespasses as we also forgive those who trespass against us”. Thus, the Archbishop recalls the letter of the Polish bishops who addressed the German bishops in 1965, saying ”we forgive and ask for forgiveness”. He also emphasised that the Christian faith is based on forgiveness.

The archbishop also referred on many occasions to Helmut James von Moltke, who, as a true Christian believed in ideas which made him use all his endeavours to ensure that people live in a state which is strongly rooted in ethics – based on Christian values. In this place, he quoted one of the declarations of the Kreisau Circle: “In Christianity we see the most valuable forces for the ethical-religious renewal of the nation, for overcoming the hatred and lies, for the reconstruction of the West, for the peaceful cooperation of nations”. The members of the Circle even dared to risk their lives, fighting with the enemy of the fundamental principles of an individual. 

Bishop Alfons Nossol: ”Dear fellow worshippers of Jesus Christ. We all know well how politically difficult this visit is, although it concerns neighbours in the very heart of Europe. There is no way to erase the awareness of the historical burden resting on us.

Another focus of the meeting was the common prayer said together by the representatives of the Evangelical Church and the Catholic Church, which started with the following words: 

”Inspired by the desire for mutual understanding and accord, we ask God – Father of all people and nations, for the gift of reconciliation, peace and cooperation between the nations neighbouring with us”. Bishop Heine-Georg Binder addressed a cordial greeting to all the gathered Evangelicals and Orthodox Christians and recalled the Memorial of the Evangelical Church from the year 1965. Here are some excerpts:

”Ethical considerations should lead to indispensable consequences, with the clear understanding of mutual trespasses and without sanctioning evil, which cannot be justified, that the relations between the nations, and especially between the German and Polish nations must be ordered anew, and the notion and the matter of reconciliation per se must be introduced as an indispensable factor into political action”. 

Prelate Paul Bocklet also recalled the exchange of letters between the clergymen from Poland and Germany in the year 1965. This was, in his opinion an example of the belief in the beginning of a dialogue and reconciliation. He also addressed the faithful with a request to God to give them strength and courage to reconcile. He recalled the millions of victims of national socialism who died because of the politics of contempt and hatred towards man. He also mentioned those who died as a result of occupation, escape and exile. 

“Lord, may their sacrifices admonish us, so that no hostility could ever exist between our nations. Only You can forgive the immeasurable fault. Set us on the road to reconciliation” In Krzyżowa, a place where the anti-Nazi opposition was active, the memory of those who became victims of persecution because they dared to oppose the criminal regime should be kept alive in particular. In this place, Father Alfred Delp and Father Maksymilian Kolbe were mentioned as representatives of the Catholic Christianity, while the Evangelical Christianity was represented by Juliusz Bursche – the Bishop of the Evangelical-Lutheran Church in Poland and Helmuth James von Moltke.

”Lord, let your light shine upon them and also give us strength to follow their example”. 

A prayer was also said for those who still live in this world and who were directly at fault in relation to their fellow human beings: 

”Lord, lead them to the awareness of their guilt. Give them the power to accept their misconducts. Make them ready to ask for forgiveness and to be open for its acceptance”. 

”Let us pray for the Polish and German nations: Lord, give us strength to come out of the shadow of the past and let us find mutual understanding. Make new horizons of hope emerge through the Polish-German youth exchange”. 

Earnest prayers were said for the nations of Europe, for the elimination of the division between the East and the West and for overcoming differences and striving for unity, taking into account cultural differences of the respective nations. These nations should have the right to live and be free of any disasters and wars. They should also have the strength to overcome mutual prejudices and differences and have the gift of alleviating the “hunger, poverty and misery of refugees” as well as the readiness to bring them help. 

The common prayer said by the representatives of the Catholic Church in Poland was mainly based on the request for the gift of reconciliation and peace. Having said the Eucharistic prayer “Of reconciliation” a sign of peace was offered. Then Chancellor Kohl and Prime Minister Mazowiecki gave speeches on the subject of reconciliation between nations. Liebe Freunde aus Polen, liebe Freunde aus Deutschland! Dear Friends, Mr Chancellor, reverend bishops! Chancellor Kohl emphasised the historic meaning of the place where the mass was organised, calling it the “heart of Europe”. He also paid attention to the words uttered during the homily, which referred to the need to learn the lesson from history and pave the road to the peaceful coexistence of both nations. Prime Minister Mazowiecki pointed out the need for brotherhood, emphasising the merits of the Kreisau Circle in this aspect and expressing a hope that the holy mass which had just been held would help to strengthen the brotherhood and give strength to spread it among the nations. After the mass, the heads of the governments also discussed some political and economic issues. Prime Minister Mazowiecki pointed out that the issue of payment of compensations to former forced labourers would be important for Poles. He also demonstrated understanding for the interruption of the visit in connection with the events in Berlin.


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