USCCB News Release
November 20, 2008
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Polish Bishops Meet with USCCB's Cultural Diversity Secretariat
WASHINGTON—A delegation of the Polish Conference of Bishops met recently in Washington with representatives of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Secretariat of Cultural Diversity.
Participating in the dialogue were Cardinal Adam Maida, the bishops' liaison for the Polish Apostolate; Msgr. Anthony Czarnecki, national coordinator of the Polish Apostolate; Msgr. Peter Zendzian, consultant to the Polish Conference of Bishops; Jesuit Father Allan Deck, executive director of the USCCB's Secretariat of Cultural Diversity in the Church, and representatives of USCCB offices involved in work with migrant communities.
The Polish Bishops' Conference was represented by Bishop Zygmunt Zimowski, delegate of the Polish Conference to Polish-speaking Catholics outside of Poland, and their General Secretary, Bishop Stanislaw Budzik.
During the meeting the bishops from Poland were briefed on the pastoral work of the USCCB with different migrant communities. The bishops from Poland emphasized the importance the Polish Conference of Bishops places on the spiritual development of Polish speaking Catholics across the world, especially in the United States where such a large number have settled. They expressed hope that "American Polonia" will be faithful to its beautiful heritage, preserve the values inherited from their cultural tradition, become a living testimony of faith and make a positive impact on the Catholic Church in the United States.
The presidents of several Polish national fraternal organizations joined for the afternoon portion of the October 24 meeting. The meeting provided the basis for future mutual collaboration between the USCCB and the Polish Conference of Bishops.
During his intervention, Father Deck said that "the historical commitment of the Polish American community to maintaining its culture and Catholic identity while also adapting to U.S. culture is one of the more outstanding models of how the process unfolds." Father Deck also pointed to the fact that experts on religious trends in the United States, such as Harvard University's Robert Putnam, have noted how maintaining cultural identity is one of the main factors in preserving people's Catholic religious identity as well.
The meeting was held in the context of 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first Polish settlers in the American continent in Jamestown, Texas. The occasion celebrated as well the thirtieth anniversary of the election of Pope John Paul II. The Ambassador of the Republic of Poland also received the bishops at the Polish Embassy.
On October 25, the Polish bishops participated in a gathering at the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center. Bishop Stanislaw Budzik presented a variety of pastoral initiatives which the Polish Episcopal Conference is introducing in response to the challenges and opportunities the Church in Poland is facing in confronting the heavy influence of the Western culture.
Bishop Zygmunt Zimowski reiterated the great solicitude of Pope John Paul II for the spiritual development of Poland. He reminded Polish immigrants of the two loves they have to cultivate, "love for the country of origin and love of the country of resettlement," retaining the most cherished values from their homeland in building the Church in their host country. "The Church is the mother of all cultures and languages," he said.
The meeting concluded with a concelebrated Mass presided by Cardinal Maida, who emphasized in his homily the importance of the culture in preserving Catholic identity and faith development.