Thousands march for Pope John Paul II on anniversary of his death

People take part in a march in defense of the late pope, St. John Paul II, in Warsaw, Poland, on Sunday April 2, 2023. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)
By Grzegorz Adamczyk
3 Min Read

Thousands walked through the streets of Warsaw and other Polish cities on Sunday to commemorate the late Saint John Paul II.

People waved flags and held portraits of the Polish pope, as those who marched in his honor emphasized the event was an attempt to resist attempts to belittle or defame what he had achieved and what he meant to Poland.

The marches, which took place across many Polish cities, were in response to a commercial TV report that claimed John Paul II had failed to act against pedophilia in the Roman Catholic Church when he was still an Archbishop in Kraków. 

During the marches, there were readings of great papal encyclicals and sermons he had made during his pilgrimages to the country. At the front of the march in Warsaw was the popemobile, a reconstruction of the vehicle used by the pope. Many of the participants recalled his pilgrimages and their own visits to Rome when he was still pontiff. 

One family, who came with four of their five children, said that they could not have missed the event and wanted to personally thank John Paul II for his teachings and for his gift of freedom.

Unfortunately, on the eve of the marches, an act of vandalism was committed against one of the statues of the Polish pope. The monument in his honor was sprayed with paint outside of Łódz Cathedral. His hands were sprayed with red paint and his face was covered in yellow with a sign reading “Maxima Culpa,” the title of Ekke Overbeek’s book alleging that the Polish pope had known about pedophilia in the church and failed to take any action.

Grzegorz Ryś, the Bishop of Łódz, asked his congregation in the city to pray for the perpetrators who had defaced the monument because he felt that this would have been what John Paul II would have done in such circumstances, as he showed when he prayed for Ali Agca, the man who had wanted to assassinate him in 1981.  

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