The growing mood of conciliation between Poland's powerful Roman Catholic Church and the Communist State was boosted on Friday night (6 January) with an address by the country's Roman Catholic Primate, Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski.
The growing mood of conciliation between Poland's powerful Roman Catholic Church and the Communist State was boosted on Friday night (6 January) with an address by the country's Roman Catholic Primate, Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski. He said the Church was ready to co-operate with the state in certain fields in return for more freedom of action. But he denied the Church had political aspirations.
SYNOPSIS: More than three quarters of Poland's population consider themselves Roman Catholics and it is to Cardinal Wyszynski that they look for religious leadership. The church, protected in the national constitution, has in the past been critical of the State. But in recent months, especially since the visit of Communist Party chief Edward Gierek to the Vatican in December, there has been an improvement in relations.
Cardinal Wyszynski's one-and-a-half hour sermon at Mass in St. John's Cathedral in Warsaw on Friday night contained his most detailed reflections so far on these contacts and his own meetings with Mr. Gierek which have raised hopes of improved Church-State relations. The Cardinal picked out morality and family life as areas where the Church and State shared a common aim. The Church was not in competition with the State but could work with it, he said, in building a better society.
His words were heard by a huge congregation that filled the Cathedral and spilled on to the street. He emphasised the church was not seeking political power. Even in seeking legal recognition, it did not want to become a "state within a state".
The Cardinal re-stated long-standing demands for this legal recognition of the church and en end to aesthetic propaganda against Catholicism.
He also said the Church must be allowed some access to schools and repeated a call for an authentic Catholic press and book publishing facilities and an end to censorship.