Francis appeals to the young

Pope Francis ended his visit to Poland with a final World Youth Day mass on Sunday. He called on young people to teach compassion to the older generation. While some commentators say the pope should have been tougher on the Polish government others are impressed by his moral integrity.

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Salzburger Nachrichten (AT) /

An old man galvanizes youth of today

The pope's visit to Poland was a resounding success, the Salzburger Nachrichten applauds:

“No sooner had he landed in Cracow than Francis was calling on the assembled youth of the world to defy terrorism. … At the same time there was something surreal about a 79-year-old church leader stepping up to tell the world's youth to get off the sofa, put their smartphones aside and start living. It was time to talk - and the pope publicly admonished the right-wing nationalist, would-be authoritarian Polish government without abusing its hospitality. Excessive desire for power is always a bad thing, Francis told the PiS leader Jarosław Kaczyński. And he gave a lecture in humanity to the overwhelming majority of Catholic Poles who don't want the country to take in refugees for fear of foreigners, reminding them that 'love thy neighbour' is the mark of true Christianity.”

El Mundo (ES) /

A social role model with great moral authority

Both young and old should take the pope's message to heart, El Mundo urges:

“With words that all the authority figures of this world should heed he called on the young to have 'the courage to show that it is easier to build bridges than walls'. These words contrast with certain political convictions that are sadly on the rise in our Western society. … Francis has called on the world's youth to wake up and change the world. He criticised those who seem to have 'chosen early retirement' and who mistake 'lying on the sofa for happiness.' The pope is a social role model and right now he is probably the person with the greatest moral authority to alert us to the threat that violence, terrorism and xenophobia represent to freedom and human rights. World Youth Day has acted like a megaphone, conveying his message to the whole world, regardless of their faith.”

Polityka (PL) /

Poles wouldn't even listen to Jesus

Francis's words of warning will have little effect in Poland, Jarosław Makowski concludes bitterly in his blog with the centre-left news magazine Polityka:

“The problem is that it is entirely beside the point whether or not Francis and his words can improve our policies or our Church. The pope only came to Poland to do his job. And he did his job. He is like someone who scatters seeds without caring where they land. But the real question is whether we are willing to accept his teachings and change our lives? Are we ready to listen to his message and change our politics, our Church and the way we treat each other? And I say, even if Jesus Christ were to appear here - on Polish soil - we still wouldn't change our way of life. We would not be open to his message.”

Deutschlandfunk (DE) /

Pope too soft on Poles

During his visit the Pope failed to appeal to the conscience of either the Polish government or the Church, criticises Deutschlandfunk:

“Liberal Catholics in particular would have liked to see Francis giving the Poles a good dressing-down. They were hoping he would reprimand the Polish Church for always aligning itself squarely with the national-conservative PiS party. And he should have urged the PiS party, which claims to be so Catholic, to allow Muslim refugees into Poland. He neglected to do either of above. ... He has failed to make it clear to the nationalist Catholics that they should stay within the remit of Catholic teachings. All in all, World Youth Day was a wonderful celebration for Poland and young people around the world - and gave Europe a reprieve after all the bad news. But Pope Francis primarily showed his conservative side in Poland.”

Der Tagesspiegel (DE) /

Pope puts Polish lack of solidarity to shame

Pope Francis met with young refugees before his trip to Poland. An ingenious provocation, applauds the Tagesspiegel:

“This is the Pope's way of showing the so-called 'Law and Justice Party' what he thinks of their policy of refusal. And what he has to offer instead: a policy of charity and compassion. Poland seems to have forgotten how many of its people found refuge in the West during the Communist era. The majority is refusing to show solidarity with the refugees. But Francis is even washing their feet! Anyone who truly believes in charity and compassion and in the salutary effect of a church of the poor; who believes that a policy of openness and opening is a sign of the times, the Pope has just called upon them to show their commitment.”

La Repubblica (IT) /

Poles need their demons exorcising

The Pope's appeal is falling on deaf ears in Poland, La Repubblica laments:

“The Pope's message is not welcome in this part of the continent where anti-European sentiment and xenophobia dictate the political and religious agenda. States like Poland, which are still paying the price of real socialism, are opposing the 'Europe of rights and freedom' Bergoglio talks of with a Europe of walls and deportation. They are clinging to ethnic-religious identities and fostering neo-nationalist and populist forces as a result. … This sick heart in a sick Europe is waiting to be healed not by a guru but by a 'consoling exorcist' who drives out the demons that are making the Church and Europe see the refugees fleeing war, rather than the war itself, as a problem.”

NaTemat (PL) /

Francis hits the right note

The Pope said just the right things in Poland, church expert Kazimierz Sowa writes approvingly in his blog naTemat:

“He opted to smooth over the waves of unrest, controversy and conflict that have rolled over our country in recent times. And he did so with aplomb. Those who were expecting tough words are just as satisfied as those who were worried he might rub salt in our wounds. ... The strongest demand was of course to open up the country to refugees. Here the Pope was clear and unequivocal: 'Needed is a spirit of readiness to welcome those fleeing from wars and hunger, and solidarity with those deprived of their fundamental rights'.”