Sir,—Surely Polish Catholics will be deeply pained by your editorial comment of April 8 wherein, through a complete misunderstanding of the facts, you criticise the Polish Hierarchy, whom you appear to blame for the cancellation of the Pope's proposed visit to Czestochowa.
As you rightly point out, the Polish bishops wrote to their German confreres in a spirit of forgiveness and Christian charity; but they did not presume to pronounce on the border dispute between the two countries, and despite the propaganda put out by opponents of the Church, most certainly they did not suggest (what would be repugnant to any Pole) that the Polish-German frontier should revert to that established after the invasion of 1939. On the contrary, their reference to this subject, which was made not in a political but in a humane context, was precisely to show that the western border must remain as presently drawn.
The relevant section of the bishops' statement is as follows: "As we well understand, for Germany the western frontier of Poland on the OderNeisse tine is a bitter fruit of the last war . . . (On the other hand) for our country, which emerged from this mass murder not as a triumphant nation, but as one 'direly exhausted. this (western frontier) is not a matter of more lebensraum, but of our very existence."
The bishops go on to point out that since 1945 millions of Poles have been forced to leave the eastern lands seized by the Russians and to settle in the regions to the east of the OderNeisse line, which is Poland's present frontier in the west. Any adjustment of this frontier would mean uprooting these families yet again, and would imply that a nation of over 30 million must be confined within the narrow boundaries which resulted in the years 1939-45 after the invasions from east and west.
In the light of the above, the accuracy of which can be checked from the original text
of the letters in question, I am sure that in justice you will withdraw the unwarranted strictures you have placed on the Polish bishops,
(Miss) J. Bogusz London, W.3.
Sir,—There was not the slightest reason for imputing that the Polish Bishops in their letter to the German hierarchy —or on any other occasionsuegested any possibility of Poland's present western frontier being discussed, let alone changed.
Even Wladyslaw Gomulka, First Secretary of the Polish Communist Party and an avowed enemy of the Church and of Cardinal Wyszynski, publicly — twice on the same occasion — quite clearly exonerated the Polish Hierarchy from this libellous accusation which was raised by less responsible elements among the Polish Communists.
I refer to Gomulka's speech which he delivered in Warsaw on January 14, 1966, during the plenary session of the socalled "All-Polish Committee of the National Unity Front". In that speech, devoted entirely to the "Bishops' Letter", Gomulka accused the Polish Bishops, among other things, of identifying the Polish Church with Western culture, of anti-Soviet attitude, of using "reactionary" language, etc.
But he said — and I quote according to the official Partypaper, Trybuna Ludu of January 15 1966: ". .. One cannot accuse them (the Bishops) of having made any concessions regarding the frontiers. They have not. They used only some very unfortunate expressions . . ."
And further, in the same speech, Gomulka said again: "... And in reality, regarding the question of frontiers. it would be difficult to accuse the Bishops of wanting to return our Western Territories to the Germans. No one has accused them of it. As a matter of fact, they take a different attitude."
Z. Racieski, Secretary General International Federation of Free Journalists.
Sir,—Catholics in Britain, along with their non-Catholic fellow citizens, voted in the recent General Election with out receiving or expecting tt, receive any advice from the Hierarchy about supporting or opposing this or that party. 1 am sure that, in the interest, of accuracy, many Catholics in Britain would like to k what precisely was thek..I s. lr given by Archbishop Cionii in a pastoral issued before the elections in Malta. The ni■stery that seems to surround this should be cleared up.
Reports from Malta recently indicated that Mgr. Peter Paul Saydon. well known in Malta was a Biblical scholar. had been suspended from priestly duties because he was alleged to have commented on the dispute between the Church and the Malta Labour Party. On March 28 The Times (London) reported that Mgr. Saydon had stated that in Archbishop Gonzi's pastoral "there was nothing saying it was sinful to vote for the Malta Labour Party" and that "he was bewildered by interpretations to the contrary that were being given by some priests".
What I would like to know is whether there is substance in a report 1 have read that Archbishop Gonzi "warned Catholics in a pastoral letter issued before the election that it would be a mortal sin for them to vote Labour". Does anybody in Britain know whether in fact Archbishop Gonzi said this, or, if he said it, what were the reasons put forward? Is it to be assumed that Mgr. Saydon misinterpreted the Archbishop's pastoral?
Thomas Park . Manchester 20.
The Archbishop's letter did
not explicitly condemn voting for the M.L.P. It said that Catholics had a grave duly not to vote for any party whose policies were directly opposed to the Church. Individuals may have understood
this to mean that they were for
bidden to vote for 'lie M.L.P., especially when some priests there publicly gave this interpretation to the letter.—Editor.