Page 1, 25th November 1983

25th November 1983
Page 1
Page 1, 25th November 1983 — Polish priests put on 'hit list'

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Locations: Warsaw, Kent, Rome


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Polish priests put on 'hit list'

by Christopher Howse CARDINAL GLEMP has been asked by the Polish authorities to persuade a list of 69 "extremist" priests to stop antiSocialist activities, if he does not want the state to take action against them itself.

The list includes Fr Henryk Jankowski, well-known as an associate of Lech Walesa, and Fr Jerzy Popieluszko, a Warsaw parish priest whose church is crowded for his Masses for the nation. They are already under official investigation for "abusing religious freedom".

Neither the Polish government nor the Church would confirm or deny that the 69 names had been given to Cardinal Glemp by Adam Lopatka, the Minister for Religious Affairs, with accompanying extracts from offending sermons.

The list of priests has been leaked to Keston College, the Kent-based centre for study of religion in Communist

countries. The threat of political trials against priests coincides with the expected show-trial of four activists of the banned KOR group of intellectuals. One of the, priests named, Fr Jan Zieja, who is in his 80s, is a founder member of KOR.

The Polish bishops, after a two-day meeting in Warsaw, urged the authorities, in a united statement to abandon political trials and release political prisoners. They added that "social and political reforms are essential," and stated that price rises were not the way to beat inflation.

The bishops, meeting under Cardinal Glemp thanked various countries for bringing urgent aid to Poland. This is still needed, they say, but Poles must find ways of fighting "spreading poverty".

It is not known if the authorities really still expect Cardinal Glemp to accede to their pressure, but earlier the Cardinal discounted the force of an ideological campaign against the Church following the 13th ideological plenum of the Party Central Committee in October. The Cardinal said he thought the Communist Party was too weak to carry out its threats.

Others reported to he on the list include Fr Stanislaw Malkowski, 37, whose Warsaw home was raided earlier this month by unknown persons who ransacked his library and took away a large quantity of what were said to be underground Solidarity publications.

One of at least six Dominican university chaplains on the list is Fr Tomasz Aleksiewicz, whose colleague in Poznan, Fr Stanislaw Kowalczyk, was killed in a car crash in suspicious circumstances on April 17. Since speaking at Fr Kowalczyk's funeral, Fr Aleksiewicz has received frequent death threats.

Another of the Dominicans, Fr Jacek Salij, a personal friend of Pope John Paul, was refused permission to travel to last month's Synod in Rome to which he had been invited as a consultant.

The official investigations of Fr Jankowski and Fr Popieluszko have received large public interest. More than 40 Western press and cameramen were detained at the Gdansk courthouse where Fr Jankowski was questioned last week to prevent reporting of a demonstration by hundreds of parishioners. "There is a campaign against me. They want to get me in any possible way," Fr Jankowski said.

Fr Popieluszko was detained for two days on August 28 when he was due to give a sermon under the headings: truth, freedom, justice and solidarity. The sermon was in the event read out in church by a parishioner. Fr Popieluszko was early connected with workers'

protests when he was appointed by Cardinal Wyszynski to organise pastoral work among striking steelworkers in Warsaw in August 1980.

Though in the West more concern is likely to be focused on the KOR defendants, any trial of priests may arouse widespread public unrest in Poland at a time when a rise in food prices and the second anniversary of the introduction of martial law already threaten violence on the streets.

• An imprisoned Polish priest has asked Amnesty International for help after being beaten and forbidden from saying Mass. Pr Sylwester Zych, gaoled for six years for allegedly hiding a militiaman's murderer's weapon, Fr Zych asked for

political status in an

underground Solidarity newsletter sent to Western press.

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