The text of the beatification decree issued by the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints on January 14, 2011, concerning the beatification of Pope John Paul II, continued from the previous page:
John Paul II used to evaluate the results of the international Apostolic Voyages with his collaborators, to identify what was well done, and to see to the changes for the coming voyages. After the voyage in Poland in 1991, the Pope noticed that, during the Mass in Warsaw, in the farthest parts, the young people came and went away, drank beer or coca-cola, and came back. “It was not like this during the previous voyages, he noted, there has been a change in the society’s mentality. It is not worth looking at the “first places”. The VIP are always seated in the same manner, but the “margins” are important and worth our attention.” It is worth noting that the Pope did not use the word “crowd”: he has always seen and paid attention to “people”. He was very attentive to the role of the laity in the life and mission of the Church. It is quite meaningful that, when he was still University chaplain in Cracow, he exploited a brief period of “political thaw” in 1957 to organise – in collaboration with the archbishop of Wroclaw, Boleslaw Kominek – a symposium in the city for more than 100 university students from all Poland (for the first time since decades!) precisely on the theme “The role of lay people in the Church” (and that was years before Vatican II!). Later, during the summer vacations, he organised spiritual exercises at the place of the Ursuline Sisters of the Roman Union in Bado Ślaskie for a slightly smaller group of the participants of the symposium of Wroclaw, precisely to promote the “formation of the laity”.
With the creation of the World Youth Days, the Pope gave his support to various forms of activity of the lay people in the life and mission of the Church, thus paving the way to the very meaningful initiatives, some years later, during the pontificate of Benedict XVI: the holding in September 2010 in Korea, of an important Congress for the lay Catholics of Asia; the meetings of African bishops who are ever more encouraging the lay people to hold positions of responsibility in the sectors of evangelisation, social activity and in the Church’s educational sphere; the significant presence of lay Catholics in the continental Mission of Latin America.
Reviewing his pontificate, Benedict XVI makes a note of the generation changes on a world scale, and comes to the same conclusion as his predecessor, namely that “times have changed”. Meanwhile a new generation has come, with new problems. The generation of the late sixties, with its own peculiarities, has come and gone. Even the following generation, more pragmatic, is ageing. Today, one must ask: “How can we cope with a world that threatens itself, and in which progress becomes a danger? Should we not start all over again from God?” (Light of the World). So Benedict XVI makes an appeal “that a new generation of Catholics may rise, people inwardly renewed who would commit themselves in politics without any inferiority complex” (an idea oft repeated by the Pope, namely in the Message for the 46th Social Week of Italian Catholics, 12th October 2010). He goes on to call for a new generation of good intellectuals and scientists, attentive to the fact “that a scientific perspective that ignores the ethical and religious dimension of life becomes dangerously narrow, just as a religion would, if it were to refuse a legitimate contribution of science to our understanding of the world” (London, St. Mary’s College, 17th September 2010); the Pope calls for a “new generation of committed Christian laypeople capable of seeking, with competency and moral rigor, solutions of sustainable development” (7th September 2008). (continued on next page)