Remembering Cardinal Glemp.
Earlier today, I learned that Józef Cardinal Glemp died yesterday at the age of 83. Cardinal Glemp spent twenty-five years as Archbishop of Warsaw and nearly three decades as Roman Catholic Primate of Poland, leading the Polish Church through an often-tumultous era that included the period of martial law under General Jaruzelski, the fall of Communism and the return of democracy, and the development of a more secular and consumeristic culture that challenged the traditional place of Catholicism in Polish society. As Pope Benedict XVI said in a statement released today, throughout his episcopate Cardinal Glemp served as "an apostle of unity against division, of harmony in the face of confrontation, of the building of a happy future based on the past joyous and sorrowful experiences of the Church and the nation."
The role that Cardinal Glemp played in my own life was small but, in retrospect, rather significant. As a teenager in the mid-1990s, I met Cardinal Glemp during a pastoral visit he made to Polish communities in the United States. We spoke only briefly, mostly about the area my ancestors had come from in Poland; though we didn't speak about the priesthood at all, at the end of our conversation the Cardinal turned to the other people around, pointed at me, and said, "He will go to the seminary." That idea was the furthest thing from my mind then, and I believe that Cardinal Glemp was the first person to suggest, even if indirectly, that I consider the priesthood. As I pray for the soul of Cardinal Glemp, I also express my appreciation for his discreet role in encouraging my own vocation. Requiescat in pace. AMDG.