Catholic Culture Dedication
Catholic Culture Dedication

Nation's Right to Existence Is Always a Just Cause

by Pope Saint John Paul II


The Holy Father's May 19, 1999 General Audience remarks to Polish pilgrims recalling the Battle of Monte Cassino.

Larger Work

L'Osservatore Romano



Publisher & Date

Vatican, May 26, 1999

At the General Audience of Wednesday, 19 May, the Holy Father greeted the many Polish pilgrims in attendance and recalled the battle of Monte Cassino (18 May 1944), in which many Poles lost their lives. Here is a translation of his remarks, which were made in Polish.

I would cordially like to greet my compatriots attending today's audience who have come to Rome from Poland or from abroad to celebrate the 55th anniversary of the memorable battle of Monte Cassino.

I joyfully welcome the soldiers who took part in that battle, as well as the representatives of the Veterans' Associations. I welcome the Cardinal Primate, the Cardinal Metropolitan of Wroclaw, Archbishop Szczepan — Pastor of Poles abroad. Bishops Fraszewski and Glodz, the representatives of the supreme authorities and the Polish Government, with the President of the Senate, the representatives of the Polish Army and the Ambassador of the Polish Republic to the Apostolic See. Most of all, I would like to mention two persons here: President Kaczorowski and Mrs Anders, whose presence is particularly significant today.

The battle of Monte Cassino is inscribed forever in the history of Poland and Europe. It showed what great value there is in love for one's homeland and in the desire to regain lost independence. "At Monte Cassino", as I once said, "the Polish soldier fought, here he fell, here he shed his blood, thinking of his country, of that country which is for us a beloved Mother precisely because love for her demands sacrifice and hardship.... [The Polish soldier was] guided by the consciousness of a just cause, since a just cause was and shall never cease to be the right of a nation to existence, to independent existence, to social life in the spirit of its own national convictions and religious traditions, and to the sovereignty of its own territory" (Homily, 18 May 1979; L'Osservatore Romano English edition, 28 May 1979, pp. 6-7). Through the sacrifice of their lives and the tribute of blood paid there, our compatriots laid the foundations of a new Europe faithful to its Christian tradition, conscious of its spiritual roots and more united. They also laid the foundations of a new Poland. May this battle always be remembered by today's generation and those to come. It is a great challenge for us on the way to creating a new social life in new circumstances — a life based on the teaching of the Gospel and the 1,000-year-old spiritual heritage of our nation.

In our prayer today let us include the soldiers who fought at Monte Cassino, their families and all the concerns of our homeland.

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