by Peter Stanford
CARDINAL Josef Glemp, the Primate of Poland, has attacked the Communist media for putting the Catholic Church and Fr Jerzy Popieluszko in the dock alongside the four men convicted last week of the proSolidarity priest's murder.
Cardinal Glemp, speaking in an informal briefing to British journalists, made his comments after General Jaruzelski, the Polish head of state, Adam Lopatka, the Minister for Religious Affairs, and the Soviet newsagency 'l'ass, had all accused the Church of meddling in politics. Mr Lopatka said that Fr Popieluszko "should have been imprisoned long ago when he deserved it". His comments were echoed by General Jaruzelski, currently on a state visit to India, in an interview with the Times of India. "Certain priests abuse their functions to stage unlawful acts", the General said.
Tass meanwhile said after four secret policemen! had been sentenced to a total of 79 years imprisonment for their part in the murder of Fr Popieluszko, that the trial in Torun had exposed "numerous facts of activities hostile to the socialist state conducted by church representatives".
In direct response to Mr Lopatka's comments, Cardinal Glemp noted that Fr Popieluszko's activities had mirrored the sentiments of a broad section of Polish society, "but to call that violating the law or shattering national accord is not right — at least that is my opinion".
"I belive that the trial of the murderers of Fr Popieluszko was of historic importance", Cardinal Glemp said, "though we do not overestimate it. The occasion of the trial was used to make an attempt to show the guilt of Fr Popieluszko and to point to the Church as the source of this guilt".
The Cardinal emphasised that the Polish hierarchy would continue to give its support to "our priests as if we were defending our brothers and sisters". The Primate also firmly rebutted suggestions that he had planned to send Fr Popieluszko to Rome. The idea had been raised with the priest, Cardinal Glemp said, but the final decision had rested with Fr Popieluszko.
Last weekend residents of Fr Popieluszko's home village of Suchawola on the Russo-Polish border held a service of remembrance attended by the dead priest's family, whilst in Warsaw at his parish of St Stanislaw Kostka parishoners gathered to honour the memory of the radical priest.
See Analysis, page 3