Marian Jaworski, the cardinal who rebuilt the Ukrainian Church

Close friend of John Paul II, who in 1998 had given him the purple “in pectore”, the ancient metropolitan of Lviv passed away last Saturday at the age of 94. After the Second World War he was the architect of the rebirth of the ecclesial fabric dismembered by the communist regime

Alessandro De Carolis – Vatican City

Instead of the altar a cinema cloth, instead of gym equipment benches. The scarring of royal socialism on the churches across the Curtain. There are an infinite number of them in the Soviet countries, in the years in which the diktats of the Kremlin are trying to annihilate the “enemy” faith. Ukraine is no exception. And this is the scenario that faces Marian Jaworski when she returns to her Lviv (Lviv in Ukrainian) – left 46 years earlier as a seminarian due to the Soviet occupation – wearing the vestments of a metropolitan archbishop. It is May 1991, the rubble of the Berlin Wall still smokes and for the Ukrainian church, as for those of Eastern European countries, it is a year zero. It is also necessary to rebuild on the rubble of those who have never lowered the Gospel and paid for it often very hard prices.

Stone by stone

It was John Paul II, a great friend, who created him head of the Lviv Church of the Latins. Monsignor Jaworski rolls up his sleeves. Start a patient recovery action and where you attended concerts or room theatrical people slowly return to celebrate Mass. Then there are the churches to be rebuilt because they simply no longer exist, there is a need to put back on their feet an exhausted clergy, to guarantee them a future of new vocations and already in ’97 the major seminary of Lviv is a reality. Same thing with the laity, who thanks to the encouragement and support of the Metropolitan of Lviv discovers that they possess a dignity well expressed many years before the Council, but until then suffocated by repression.

A close-up of Cardinal Marian Jaworski

To God by faith and by science

The future cardinal puts great zeal and uncommon intelligence into this mission of relaunch. When after 46 years away he returned to Lviv, his curriculum recounts long years of teaching spent in the Theological Faculty of Krakow, of which he became the first rector in 81. His is a mind that knows how to combine the acumen of metaphysical investigation with the concreteness of pastoral practice. Over time he will sign hundreds of publications, many of them on the philosophical concept of God, on the well-known, for him, problem of atheism, on Christian anthropology.

A hand for Wojtyla

For Marian Jaworski Krakow was an adoptive city. It is there that his path intersects with that of Karol Wojtyla, six years older, who on several occasions during his doctorate, in difficult situations, helps him by hosting him in his own home. A bond and an esteem that grow indelibly when in ’67 – having to replace the future Pope who was in Rome for the Council – Jaworski leaves for a pastoral visit to Olsztyn but the train on which he travels has an accident that costs him there. amputation of the left hand.

A great humble man

Three years ago, Polish President Duda awarded him the Order of the White Eagle, the nation’s highest award. But he has always been “a man of great culture and piety”, recalls the Archbishop of Krakow Marek Jędraszewski. “He enjoyed – he says – great authority and respect from John Paul II. For a while he was also his confessor.” What remains impressed, he says, is “the testimony of the cardinal’s faith, for the service rendered to the Church up to end, for his great humility “.