Page 5, 19th May 1967

19th May 1967
Page 5

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Locations: Surrey


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MR. NORMAN ST. JOHNSTEVAS'S article on Poland (May 5) was in keeping with its slanted headline, "Unyielding Polish Primate". But perhaps I know a little more about Pax than he does, since I have been receiving its Revue de la Press Catholique en Pologne — the title has now been changed to La Vie Catholique en Pologne —ever since 1963. This publication has the full support of the Government, which regards it as part of its own propagandist arm and gives it all the paper it wants, whilst supplies to Catholic papers proper are strictly rationed. At a casual glance it is what it purports to be—a selection of articles from Catholic journals—but a careful reading over a period brings out its real purpose and function. Recurring themes are subtle attacks on Cardinal Wyszynski, condemnations of the warmongering of the United States and obsequious tributes to the peace-loving Soviet Union. Recently it praised Pope Paul for his efforts for peace in Vietnam but slated him for using vague theological terms instead of putting the whole blame for the war on the United States. Pax constantly harks back to Pope John XXIII, and just as constantly attacks his predecessor. Pope Pius XII. And it seldom misses an Opportunity of sending greetings to Communist gatherings in neighbouring countries, promising support for their efforts to bring about social justice through the spread of Communism. In one such message it said: "Poland, in common with the German Democratic Republic, the Soviet Union, and the other signatories to the Warsaw Pact, will never permit the reactionaries of Bonn to have access to nuclear weapons." Its praise of the Communist regime everywhere is always fulsome and often naive, and it is hard to believe that it is not dictated. The image it projects ceaselessly is that of an inflexible, old-fashioned hierarchy, quite out of touch with the times and so alienating the new generation of "progressive" Polish Catholics and making the working out of a modus vivendi with the Communists almost impossible. The aims of Pax go far beyond suggesting a dialogue with Marxism, in the sense that Pope John spoke of it. It purports to be a Catholic organisation, but it toes the Party line and there is no doubting who cracks the whip. It is time that this image of a stiff-necked Polish hierarchy was recognised for the lie that it is. Poland's struggle is not just with an atheist regime, but with the renegade Catholics who have chosen the way of surrender whilst pretending to be seeking a modus vivendi. John D. Sheridan Dublin.

MR. ST. JOHN-STEVAS is singularly ill-informed (May 5) if all he can find to report about the Polish "Pax" movement is that its leader Piasecki is "brilliant but enigmatic" and that it believes one can reconcile "Marxist socialism" with "belief in God." The Vatican Secretariat of State, in its detailed document of 1963, has revealed to the West what all Polish Catholics had long known that "Pax" is an organism directly controlled by the Central Bureau of the Polish Communist Party, and heavily subsidised so that, while pretending to be an association of progressive Catholics and the major "Catholic" publishing house in the country, it can undermine the admirable unity of the Poles behind their bishops, and thus break the passive resistance of

90 per cent of the people to an anti-Christian ideology and a minority regime maintained only by force.

No, it is not Cardinal Wyszynski who is too unyielding. Mr. St. John-Stevas, however unwittingly, has by his omission given your readers an unbalanced picture of the Polish situation, and one that does less than justice to a heroic hierarchy and people. Geoffrey Lawman Weybridge, Surrey.

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