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Nations do not die

· State funeral of the President of the Republic of Poland ·

Cardinal Angelo Sodano, appointed by the Holy Father to represent him at the State funeral of the late President Lech Kaczy{l-nacute}ski, his wife and the other victims of the air crash near Smolensk on 10 April, was prevented from going to Poland by the volcanic cloud that blocked the skies of Europe. The Homily that Cardinal Sodano had prepared for the occasion was read at the funeral in Wawel Cathedral, Krakow, on Sunday, 18 April, by Archbishop Józef Kowalczyk, Apostolic Nuncio in Poland. The following is a translation of the Cardinal's Homily which was written in Polish, Italian, English, French, German and Spanish.

Polish:

Distinguished Heads of State and of Government,

Distinguished Authorities of the Republic of Poland,

Venerable Brother Bishops and Priests of the Church in Poland,

Dear Friends,

Italian:

From various parts of the world and from the different corners of Poland, you have come in large numbers to this historical Marian Basilica in Krakow to pay homage to H.E. Mr Lech Alexander Kaczy{l-nacute}ski, the late Head of State – who has left this noble nation mourning in a moving and tragic bereavement – together with his beloved wife Maria, and to the other 94 victims of the air crash near Smolensk.

I too have come here from Vatican City, the heart of the Catholic world, in order to bring to the Authorities and People of the Republic of Poland the assurance of Pope Benedict XVI's closeness and solidarity.

For more than a millennium this beloved Polish community has always been profoundly united to the Church of Rome. The close bonds of ecclesial communion were later further strengthened by the contribution that the Church of Krakow made to the entire Christian community with her gift of the Great Pontiff, John Paul II.

I am therefore delighted to bring here the prayers, greeting and Blessing of Pope Benedict XVI.

English:

We have gathered at a tragic hour in the history of the Polish Nation, one of the many sad hours which have marked her history. But that same history teaches us that this noble and generous people has always found the wisdom and strength needed to respond to trial and tribulation, and to come together, in unity and harmony, as a society and as a nation.

This is the prayer-filled hope and encouragement that Pope Benedict XVI once more expresses for the Polish people: the encouragement that they will persevere in concord and in active cooperation with other peoples in the building of a world of authentic justice and civility.

Your own presence, as Heads of State and Government assembled in Poland at this hour of national mourning, is itself a message of great hope for the future.

It is the hope that here in Europe, and throughout the world, the bonds of friendship and cooperation among people will be strengthened. It is the hope of an increased solidarity among the Nations, in good times and bad, a solidarity marked by unfailing respect for their proper identity and culture.

French:

“Nations do not die”, the successive Sovereign Pontiffs have repeated on various occasions. The great son of this country of Poland, Pope John Paul II, during a visit to the United Nations, also spoke of the “Rights of Nations”, on a par with the rights of people.

At the same time, neither did the late John Paul II nor Pope Benedict XVI cease to remind us of the duty of solidarity among the nations, in the light of the great and superior principle of the unity of the human race.

German:

I would now like to express the wish that the last honours which we offer as a tribute today to the late President of the Republic of Poland, as well as to the memory of the victims of Katy{l-nacute} whom the late President had intended to commemorate, may contribute to a greater unity in Europe and in the world.

The Catholic Church, for her part, is committed to this sublime ideal, making Christ's Gospel present in the hearts of peoples as a powerful leaven that can transform and ennoble every society and thus show the way to a better world.

Spanish:

Dear friends, for Christians across the world the Easter Season is a time of hope. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is also a guarantee for humanity today. The light of Christ continues to illuminate the mystery of the suffering of people and peoples so that we may hope for a future of serenity and peace.

Polish:

Dear Polish friends, remember that the words of Psalm 144[143] remain ever timely: “Happy the people whose God is the Lord”!

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