The Pope finally arrives – but will Poles be happy?
On the surface, World Youth Day seems to center on the visit by the Pope. Yet if you refer to “the Pope” in Poland, more often than not people will think not of Francis, the current official head of the Catholic Church, but rather John Paul II – the celebrated and long-serving Holy See who hailed from Wadowice, 50 km from Krakow. In fact, you may have noticed that much of the official signage for World Youth Day has featured his image, and, if you read the Polish bishops’ letter greeting World Youth Day pilgrims, you will have spied John Paul II’s name three times and Francis’ none. Not only does Francis live in the inevitable shadow of his locally-grown predecessor, but some of his messages clash strongly with mainstream Polish Catholic beliefs – most notably his acts and exhortations in support of Middle Eastern refugees, which the current government has rejected.
On Wednesday, Francis will arrive in Krakow and begin his World Youth Day tour with addresses to these very Church officials and politicians. It remains to be seen if he will touch on these contentious issues which he has made a cornerstone of his papacy (along with his likewise controversially conciliatory approaches to social issues like divorce and contraception), or if he will take a more diplomatic tone. Either way, despite the fact that Poland is overwhelmingly Catholic, observers do not expect Pope Francis to be automatically be welcomed with open arms by his host country.
Iraqi man arrested in Łódż with explosives
The ABW, Poland’s domestic intelligence agency, arrested a 48-year-old Iraqi man on 21 July in Łódż on charges of possessing trace amounts of explosives. Prosecutor Beata Marczak stressed that there were not enough to create a working bomb, and that, despite rumors, it is unknown what the man’s plans were or if he was connected to a larger organization. The court there has sentenced him immediately to two months’ improsonment as a precaution; eventually he will be tried on charges that could carry a penalty of up to eight years. Polsat News is reporting that the suspect had previously lived in Switzerland and Sweden. [Gazeta.pl]
Ill weather expected on Pope’s arrival
Meteorologists are predicting that Wednesday, when Pope Francis is due to touch down in Krakow, will bring heat in the low 30s and afternoon thunderstorms, possibly with hail. Thursday, when Francis is scheduled to address the hundreds of thousands of pilgrims who have arrived, is expected to be even more inhospitable, with rain and storms throughout most of the day. [TVN Meteo]