National Catholic Register

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Pontificate Riled Polish Communists Early On

BY Jonathan Luxmoore

November 08-14, 1998 Issue | Posted 11/8/98 at 1:00 PM

 

WARSAW, Poland—The official regime report on the Pope's talks with a communist state delegation after his 1978 election has been printed by a Polish newspaper, showing tensions were evident from the first days of John Paul II's pontificate.

“Our Polish mission was the only one the Pope received in full,” noted the text, published in Poland's Rzeczpospolita daily.

“Despite being ‘banished’ from Poland because of the ‘force of facts,’ he said he had not stopped being a Pole. ‘Poland is inside me,’ he added.”

The report, written by Foreign Minister Jozef Czyrek and religious affairs director Kazimierz Kakol, said the talks, a day after John Paul II's October 22 inauguration, had taken the form “not of declarations but of a lively dialogue,” during which the Pope had thanked the Polish government for its “attitude” to his election.

It added that the Polish delegation leader, State Council chairman Henryk Jablonski, had voiced hopes that Church-State ties would now improve and that the Vatican and Poland could “act together” internationally for peace.

However, although John Paul II had “shown agreement,” he had done so only “in general formulations, touching the ideas but without going into detail.”

“Comrade Jablonski talked about state-Church relations in Poland, showing that we are interested in deepening the Church's already wide co-operation with the state in realizing important national aims,” the report continued.

“The Pope thanked him for this standpoint, which he had expected, but did not develop the topic. … He listened to the State Council chairman's speech with great attention, especially the part about needing to see relations as a process in development and to use various reference points — historical, geographical, etc. — in assessing it. When it was said our country has traditions of tolerance and has not had any religious wars, he added, ‘there've been no burnings at the stake either.’”

The Polish delegation, which was one of 15 received by the former Archbishop Karol Wojtyla on October 23, followed a telegram of “hearty congratulations” from the communist regime of Edward Gierek.

However, Polish security agents were ordered simultaneously to recruit new informers and obtain more detailed data on links between the Vatican and Polish Church.

In their report, Czyrek and Kakol said Jablonski had “polemicized” with the Pope at the October 23 meeting over his remarks about the “small role” assigned to spiritual forces in the struggle for peace.

They added that John Paul II, who was an hour late for a lunch meeting with Poland's Catholic bishops, had “voiced sadness” at having to leave his Krakow see and had urged the city's mayor, who took part in the talks, to “rescue Krakow.”

“While getting ready for a photograph, John Paul II said as a disgression he hoped to visit Krakow some day,” the report continued.

“He said Father Stanislaw Dziwisz (Cardinal Wojtyla'secretary), was having trouble since he didn't know what to do with the Polish Pope's passport — send it back or keep it. Asked which he preferred, he replied, ‘Of course, I would like to keep it.’”

The report said Jablonski later told the secretary of the Vatican's Council for Public Affairs, Archbishop Agostino Casaroli, that his government expected its current “line in relations” with Rome to be continued.

It added that Casaroli, who was promoted to Vatican Secretary of State in April 1979, had promised to continue working for a “possible and necessary modus vivendi between state and Church.”

However, although the Pope had “maintained the current position” in his talks with the Soviet Union's Rome ambassador, Casaroli warned, he had also used “more cautious formulations” than his predecessors.

“In this connection, Casardi hopes to be counted among the Pope's first collaborators,” the report noted.

“He calculates the new Pope will continue the policy of his predecessors, although a full and final answer to this question can only be given by the appointment of his closest aides and particularly by his first acts.” (Jonathan Luxmoore)