From a Correspondent N outspoken demand by the bishops of Poland for complete control over four dioceses in former German territory gathered strength this week when the hierarchy met under Cardinal Wyszinski at Wroclaw, in the heart of the crisis area.
The three-day conference, which closed yesterday, was held to mark what the Cardinal called "God's intervention in our return to these territories". The area has been the centre of a continuing three-cornered struggle between the bishops, the Communist Government and the Holy See.
The Cardinal has ordered special celebrations in every Polish diocese to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Polish ecclesiastical administration in the dioceses, which are now called Wroclaw, Olstyn, Opole and Grosow.
Up to now he has been attacked repeatedly by the Government for not entering into anniversary celebrations.
The Holy See has so far ignored the new Polish frontier and says it will continue to do so until a peace treaty of the wartime allies ratifies it.
However, negotiations between the Vatican and the Communists are now expected to take on a new slant.
The next step will he a petition from Cardinal Wyszynski to Pope
Paul for complete freedom to appoint Polish bishops in the area instead of Government vetted "apostolic administrators".
This idea is expected to give rise to demonstrations in West Germany.
In a recent 5,000-word joint pastoral letter the bishops stated they would remain in the new dioceses "in complete unity with the whole Polish nation, which irrespective of political orientation or world outlook, considers that, in accordance with the Natural Law, these territories are irrevocably linked with Poland's hinterland.
"That is what we think and what we believe, and that is what we declare publicly and privately. And we are ready to sacrifice our lives in this cause," said the bishops. The immediate Government reaction was to welcome the statement.
• On Friday last, more than a quarter of a million Polish mothers gathered at Jasna Gore for the annual pilgrimage to the shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa.
Hundreds of women fainted with emotion as they pledged themselves to total acceptance of the Church's authority.