In Krakow, Archbishop Lori stresses ‘charity that evangelizes’

July 27, 2016

By Maureen Cromer

KRAKOW, Poland – A delegation of 110 pilgrims from the Archdiocese of Baltimore was among the tens of thousands from across the world gathered at the Tauron Arena July 27.

The arena, for this week, is known at the Knights of Columbus Mercy Centre, and is serving as World Youth Day 2016’s international English-language catechetical and youth festival site.

It was at the Mercy Centre where the pilgrims from the Baltimore Archdiocese met with Archbishop William E. Lori. As supreme chaplain of the Knights of Columbus, he had blessed the arena July 26, and is a most visible presence at World Youth Day, helping evangelize youths and young adults about the importance of religious freedom.

As chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, he is an authority on the subject, which gained additional attention July 26 with the murder in France of an 85-year-old priest by Islamic terrorists.

A World Youth Day in Krakow already brought historical significance, as the city was occupied by both the Nazis and Soviets. The walls in this city were the backdrop for the mass murder of millions during the Holocaust and the persecution of the Catholic Church, a crucible that produced one of Poland’s greatest heroes, St. John Paul II.

“Religious freedom should not just be a matter of controversy,” Archbishop Lori said during a media briefing that included Boston Cardinal Seán O’Malley.

“It is a beautiful gift from God given to us so we can open our hearts freely and lovingly to him and to one another. I would hope that the young people present here work to protect our freedom like we strive to protect all of God’s gifts – especially the gift of life.”

“I would make a link between freedom and mercy,” Archbishop Lori continued, during this Jubilee Year of Mercy. “We seek to protect our freedom not simply because we want to have freedom of choice as individuals or that we want to protect some prerogative of the church. We are seeking to foster and protect our liberties so that we can use them well.

“That means using them to do the works of mercy – to engage in what St. John Paull II called a charity that evangelizes. This message is what should be the heart of World Youth Day.”

Following Mass and a press conference, the archbishop met with the pilgrims from Baltimore, speaking to them of the importance of their journey. He encouraged the pilgrims to be evangelizers and to strive to protect the freedoms of each and every one of God’s children.

See also:

World Youth Day blog: Pilgrims in Krakow

Q&A with Archbishop Lori on religious liberty: Part I