FOR THE EPISCOPAL ORDINATION
HOMILY OF CARDINAL ANGELO SODANO
Basilica of the Twelve Holy
Venerable Confreres and distinguished Authorities,
Today is a feast day for the Franciscan Family. The Lord has deigned to choose one of the sons of the "Poverello" of Assisi to be the Pastor of an important Christian community.
In a little while I will lay my hands on dear Fr Jerzy, as will the consecrating Bishops. He will thus become a new successor of the Apostles and will seek to put into practice the mandate that Christ consigned to the Twelve before his Ascension into Heaven: "Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations. Baptize them in the name "of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit'" (Mt 28: 19).
At this moment of grace the Franciscan Family rejoices, happy once again to offer one of its sons for the pastoral government of God's flock as it has done frequently in the course of its history in various parts of the world. Moreover, how could we fail to remember the sons of St Francis who sat on the Chair of St Peter, such as Sixtus V and Clement XIV?
Dear Conventual Fathers, I extend a most brotherly greeting to you all, starting with Fr Joachim Anthony Giermek, Minister General, to the Religious from Poland and Uzbekistan, led by Fr Krzysztof Kuku³ka, who has until now been the praiseworthy Superior of that Mission sui iuris.
Next, I would like, with you, to greet Fr Jerzy's mother and all his relatives and friends: "Serdecznie pozdrawiam Mame Ojca Jerzego, rodzine i przyjacioł. Niech Bóg Wam błogosławi".
Having said this, I invite everyone to pray for the new Bishop, imploring upon him the gifts of the Holy Spirit so that his mission will produce abundant fruits of good.
The Episcopal Ordination of the new Pastor of Uzbekistan is taking place on the eve of the Solemnity of Pentecost. The whole liturgy of this feast is an invitation to invoke Christ's Spirit, so that he will descend upon us and transform us. With yet greater intensity, we will ask for these gifts for our beloved Bishop.
Thus, as at Pentecost, tongues of fire will descend upon him and transform him from within. A wind of grace will subsequently shake the Church in Uzbekistan, just as once happened in the community of Jerusalem. And we, with our prayers, will have cooperated in this new missionary enterprise in a land so much in need of Christ's light.
Moreover, the readings of this holy Mass on the eve of Pentecost remind us of the Holy Spirit's power and the abundance of gifts that he brings to believers.
In fact, in the First Reading, the Prophet Ezekiel spoke to us of a Spirit that would bring to life a people's dry bones that lay scattered over a great plain and were restored to life by the divine breath (cf. Ez 37: 1-14).
In the Second Reading, the Apostle Paul comforted us by reminding us that "The Spirit too... helps us in our weakness" (cf. Rom 8: 22-27).
Lastly, in the Gospel, Jesus assured each one of his disciples that, after having received the Spirit, "From within him rivers of living water shall flow" (Jn 7: 38).
And these are the gifts of the Holy Spirit that we implore for our beloved Fr Jerzy, so that they may sustain him in his apostolic mission in the distant Land of Uzbekistan.
There, the Catholic Community is anxiously waiting for him to proclaim the Gospel of Christ with fresh vigour to those beloved peoples and in this way to contribute to the spiritual development of society.
Personally, I have always followed with great concern the life of the Church in that Nation as well as in the other lands of that region of the former Soviet Union.
In addition, I am glad to have contributed, as Secretary of State, to establishing regular diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Uzbekistan on 17 October 1992, assisted in the task by the late Cardinal Francesco Colasuonno, who went to Tashkent, the capital, for this purpose at the beginning of 1992.
Since then, with the advent of a new era of religious freedom, the Church has been able to work and has also received approval from non-Christians.
Recently, for the election of Pope Benedict XVI, H.E. Mr Islam Karimov, the President of the Republic, sent his most cordial good wishes to the new Pontiff from Tashkent. The presence here with us of the First Counsellor of the Uzbek Embassy is an eloquent gesture that we deeply appreciate.
In these days, that beloved Nation has been shaken by internal friction that we also find disturbing. The new Bishop will certainly be an artisan of harmony and peace in it.
We know that the Apostle's work is not easy, but for the new Bishop it will be comforting to know that he will never lack the grace of Christ and the abundance of the Spirit's gifts, which the Lord will send to him.
Let us promise Bishop Jerzy Maculewicz that we will continue to pray for him, invoking the intercession of all our saints, especially those of the numerous Franciscan Family.
Above all, let us entrust the new Bishop to the motherly protection of Mary. May she be the Pole Star that will always show him the right path and sustain him in his apostolic work. Amen!