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Allow me to play, although respectfully, the gadfly, to speak on behalf of all those who reject both optimism and pessimism in order to stick to cold realism. You are certainly aware that there has not been, nor is there presently, a lack of people who claim that if we take a close look at the years which followed the Second Vatican Council, the doors which the Council threw open ended up allowing those who were "inside" the Church to exit, rather than for those who were "outside" to enter. There are those who do not hesitate to voice concern about the situation of the Church, claiming that its unity of faith and government is not as strong as it was, but rather, is threatened by divisive forces.

Allow me once more to disagree with such a way of looking at things. What I have said up to this point leads me to have, regarding this issue, a different opinion from the people you mention. My opinion is based on faith in the Holy Spirit who guides the Church, and also from a careful observation of the facts. The Second Vatican Council was a great gift to the Church, to all those who took part

in it, to the entire human family, and to each of us individually.

It is difficult to say something new about the Second Vatican Council. At the same time, we must always refer back to the Council, which is a duty and a challenge for the Church and for the world. We feel the need to speak about the Council in order to interpret it correctly and defend it from tendentious interpretations. Such interpretations do in fact exist and they did not appear only at the end of the Council. In a certain sense the Council already found them in the world and even in the Church. These interpretations were an expression of outlooks, either favorable or opposed to accepting and understanding the Council, as well as committing oneself to making it a part of one's life.

I had the particular fortune of being able to take part in the Council from the first day to the last. This was in no way to be taken for granted, since the Communist authorities in my country considered the trip to Rome a privilege and entirely under their control. If, then, under such circumstances I was given the opportunity to participate in the Council from the beginning to the end, it can rightly be judged a special gift from God.

On the basis of my experience at the Council I wrote Sources of Renewal. At the beginning of the book, I stated that the book was an attempt to repay the debt to the Holy Spirit incurred by every bishop who participated in the Council. Yes, the Council contained something of Pentecost-it set the bishops of the world, and hence the whole Church, upon the paths that needed to be taken at the end of the second millennium. Paul VI spoke of these paths in the encyclical Ecclesiam Suam (cf. 60 ff).

At the beginning of my participation in the Council, I was a young bishop. I remember that at first my seat was right next to the entrance of St. Peter's Basilica. From the third session on-after I was appointed Archbishop of Kraków-I was moved closer to the altar.

The Council was a unique occasion for listening to others, but also for creative thinking. Naturally, the older and more expert bishops contributed the most to the development of the Council's thought. At first, since I was young, I learned more than I contributed. Gradually, however, I came to participate in the Council in a more mature and creative manner.

Thus, by the third session I found myself a member of the group preparing the so-called Thirteenth Schema, the document that would become the Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes. I was able to participate in the extremely interesting work of this group which was made up of representatives of the Theological Commission and of the lay apostolate. I will never forget the meeting at Ariccia in January 1965. I am personally indebted to Cardinal Gabriel-Marie Garrone for his fundamental help in drafting the new document. The same is true for the other bishops and theologians with whom I had the good fortune to work. I am particularly indebted to Father Yves Congar and to Father Henri De Lubac. I still remember today

the words with which the latter encouraged me to persevere in the line of thought that I had taken

up during the discussion. This happened when the meetings were taking place at the Vatican. From that moment on I enjoyed a special friendship with Father De Lubac.

The Council was a great experience of the Church; it was-as we said at the time-the "seminary of the Holy Spirit." At the Council the Holy Spirit spoke to the Church in all its universality, which was reflected in the presence of bishops from the whole world and

by the presence of representatives of many non-Catholic Churches and communities.

The words of the Holy Spirit always represent a deeper insight into the eternal mystery, and point out the paths to be walked by those entrusted with the task of bringing this mystery to the contemporary world. Even the fact that those men were called together by the Holy Spirit and formed, during the Council, a special community that listened together, prayed together, thought and created together, has a fundamental importance for evangelization, for the new evangelization, which originated precisely at the Second Vatican Council. All of this is closely linked to a new era in the history of humanity and in the history of the Church.