Vatican repudiates it
By DOUGLAS HYDE AFTER months of deliberately created tension, open and veiled persecution, duplicity and chicanery by the Communist Government, the Polish cauldron this week boiled over with a stream of conflicting reports and of an alleged Church-State agreement, which concedes to the Communists most of rumours what they have been demanding.
Out of the assertions and denials which have come from Warsaw and from Rome, and after a first-hand study of the agreement and a protocol concluded with it, the following would appear to be the position : 1. The Polish Government claims that an agreement was signed in Warsaw on Friday, April 14, and gives the names of three Bishops who, it claims,
signed on behalf of the Church.
2. Theotext. however, reveals that the three Bishops are those appointed by the Hierarchy to conduct the negotiations (which had long ago reached a position of stalemate).
It is likely that they were not empowered to conclude an agreement but merely to conduct discussions.
3. The documents do not bear the signatures of Archbishop Wyszinski of Warsaw, or of Cardinal Sapieha. nor any of the other Archbishops who might normally be expected to sign a document of such serious importance to the fate of the Church in the most Catholic country of Eastern Europe.
4. The 82-year-old Cardinal is in Rome, having gone there with the permission of the Polish Communist Government.
He is the first Prince of the Church to he permitted by any Communist Government to undertake such a mission.
It would seem unlikely that he would have been allowed to go had the Communists not taken the view that they had manoeuvred him into a position from which he could not retreat. Whether they were right in that assumption remains to be seen.
5. The Agreement and Protocol contain many vital concessions by the Bishop-signatories but none of any value whatsoever by the Communist Government.
6. Vatican sources deny that it is a Church document—which is either a denial of its existence, meaning that it is no more than a crude fake, or is what must be tantamount to a repudiation of the three Bishops concerned.
7. The Osservatore Romano (as reported in THE CATHOLIC HERALD) last week issued a lengthy attack upon the Polish Government for its persecution of the Church.
Seen in the light of subsequent events it might be interpreted as having been intended to make clear that any compromise lacked the support of those in a position to speak on behalf of the Church.
From Vatican City came an authorised statement asserting : " The Polish Church-State agreement is untrue. The circumstances and contents of the alleged agreement already indicate that there is no foundation for such a report."
The " agreement," official text of which I obtained from the Polish Embassy in London, bears the following signatures : The Minister of Public Administration, Wladyslaw Wolski; the Deputy Minister of National Defence, Edward Ochab; Member of Parliament Franciszek Mazur; Bishop Zygmunt Choromanski, Secretary of the Episcopate; Bishop Zakrzewski, of Plock, and Bishop Klepacz, of Lodz.
It will he noted that two of those who signed for the Government are " political lightweights." One would have expected that a document of such grave import to Church and State would, were it official on both sides, have been signed by the President or Premier. or both.
The Protocol bears the same names.
Most of the 19 clauses of the agreement deal with internal questions of Church-State relations.
The third and fourth clauses. however, are ones which would require Vatican approval and are perhaps the most revealing of all for it is incredible to suppose that such approval would ever, under any circumstances, be given.
Clause 3 affirms that the so-called " Recovered Territories belong to Poland for good."
It continues : 'Starting from the premise that the Recovered Territories constitute an integral part of the Polish Republic, the Episcopate will address a request to the Holy See so that Church administration which enjoys the rights of residential Episcopates be changed into permanent Bishops' seats."
And the fourth clause aims at pitting the Polish Bishops and clergy against those of Germany.
" The Episcopate," it says, " within the limits of its possibilities, will oppose activity inimical to Poland and especially anti-Polish and revisionist activity on the part of the German clergy."
The clauses dealing with internal relations underwrite, in effect, the status quo. perpetuating the present crippling restrictions and handicaps under which the Church is labouring.
The first clause commits the Bishops to instructing the faithful to " respect the law and authority of the State."
But before the present move the Government had already introduced legislation penalising Catholics and the Church. Moreover in Communist countries the State and Communist Party are indivisible.
The fifth clause has all the appearance of window dressing and embodies a typical piece of trickery. It concedes to the Pope authority in matters of faith. morals and Church jurisdiction but goes on to declare that " in other matters, however, the Episcopate is guided by the interests of the Polish State."
Even the Czech and Hungarian Governments have glibly made the same concession " — whilst doing everything possible to break the ties with Rome, to " smear" the Vatican and to identify loyalty to the Holy See with treachery.
And those who would decide just which are matters of faith and morals would be the Communist heads of State who are (a) militant atheists and (b) as Marxists, believe that. as Lenin said, " morality must be subordinate to the class struggle," The sixth clause commits the Bishops and clergy not to oppose collectivisation in the country which, it says, is " based on the ethical premise of human nature striving for voluntary social solidarity."
Another clause promises that the Bishops will combat underground bands and will punish by Canon Law members of the clergy guilty of antiState activities.
On the schools the agreement de
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