As successor to figures such as Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski, Archbishop Wojciech Polak quickly established himself as one of Poland's more approachable Catholic hierarchs, tackling issues other bishops brushed aside.
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The Polish bishop overseeing preparations for World Youth Day 2016 has urged priests to ensure that no young people are excluded because of poverty.
Poland's Catholic bishops condemned a law allowing state funding for in vitro fertilization, which was signed into law Wednesday by outgoing President Bronislaw Komorowski despite a seven-year church campaign to block it.
"As with abortion, Catholics cannot use in vitro -- among other reasons because the cost of the birth of a single human person is the destruction of other unborn children," the bishops' conference said.
NCR Today: Why should the Jews, of all minority groups in our culture, be begrudged the emotional space in the public arena to speak of their legitimate fears?
Poland's Catholic bishops pledged to resist changes to Catholic teaching on marriage and family life at October's synod on the family at the Vatican and rejected demands for reform by German-speaking Catholics.
"Polish church delegates will certainly stick to the understanding of Popes Paul VI and John Paul II," said Msgr. Jozef Kloch, spokesman for the Polish bishops' conference.
The U.S. bishops gathered in St. Louis for their spring general assembly heard presentations on the pope's upcoming encyclical on the environment, the U.S. church's ongoing work in promoting traditional marriage and the need to remain vigilant in protecting children from abuse.
On the first day of their meeting Wednesday, there also were reports on the bishops' efforts to advocate for comprehensive immigration reform and their help in rebuilding work in Haiti, which is still recovering from the 2010 earthquake.
While little has been divulged officially so far about the views collected from Catholic respondents, it's been possible to glean some measure of the strong feelings being expressed.
Although no date has been set, church leaders in Poland hope Pope Francis will visit the former Nazi concentration camp of Auschwitz during a July 2016 visit to Poland for World Youth Day.
"We hope Pope Francis will come to Auschwitz and deliver a warning to the world by again demonstrating the horrors of war and the camps, so they'll never recur," Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz of Krakow told the Polish Catholic news agency KAI.
A decade on, the late John Paul II still towers far above other national figureheads. Behind the scenes of national life, however, things have been changing.