Freedom constantly achieved

At a moment of historical transformation, we recall John Paul II's speech to pilgrims from Belarus, in which he referred to the difficult past and the challenges they face.
Bravery in hearts
On October 17, 1998, Belarus came to the Vatican with Cardinal Kazimierz Świątek. The Pope addressed them in the following words:
"Most of you have come to the Eternal City for the first time. This is certainly an historic pilgrimage, for you have come from a country that has regained its independence; in it the Church can now freely carry out her evangelizing mission. This has happened as a result of the historical events that occurred in Central and Eastern Europe during the years 1989-1990.

You have come to the tombs of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul to give thanks to God for supporting you with his strength in the time of trial and oppression. You have thanked God for the gift of faith and for the courage with which you defended your Christian tradition. You also came here to seek strength for the road that lies ahead. It is not enough to possess freedom; it must be constantly achieved and moulded. Good or bad use can be made of it, by putting it at the service of an authentic good or else of an apparent one. Today the world is pervaded by a distorted concept of freedom. There are many who proclaim a false freedom. It is important that everyone realizes this. We must pray to God that he will increase the good that was accomplished in your land and continues to be accomplished, so that your hearts may not lack strength, generosity and hope".

Revival of the Catholic Church in Belarus
At the time when Belarus was part of the Soviet Union, the Catholic Church could not function freely in this country. In 1988, when the collapse of the USSR was approaching, Primate Józef Glemp and Rev. (now Bishop) Romuald Kaminski went on a trip to Belarus to recognize the situation of the local Catholics. They later passed their conclusions to John Paul II in a personal conversation, which contributed to the Pope's quick decision to reactivate the structures of the Church in Belarus. Bishop Romuald Kaminski talks about this event in an interview with the John Paul II Thought Center (00:17:03-00:22:38) - available in Polish.