Today on the third anniversary of August 1980,
Today on the third anniversary of August 1980, third anniversary of the political revolt of the people of Wybrzeze, to whom we bow, on the third anniversary of support strikes by Huta Warszawa and the Warsaw division of PKS, we gather in church with our motto: God and Country. With our prayers we call today with our bishops, in the words of their report of the last conference, we call for our Country’s urgent need to get onto the path of national renewal through the fulfillment of national agreements reached in August 1980 by state representatives and the representation of the working world. That our prayer be fruitful and productive, let us ask God to forgive our sins and omissions.
Holy Mass for the Fatherland on August 28 1983 was celebrated by Fr. Jerzy Popieluszko who delivered the sermon.
Today, on this third anniversary of the attempt to recreate our country, we should only require a moment of thought to recall those times when, on the hot days of September 1980,
“Solidarity” was born.
Born of the concern for our country with pain and unrest in our hearts, uncertainty about tomorrow, physical and spiritual exhaustion, on bended knees, with a rosary in our hand, on our knees in front of the open-air altar, with patriotic and religious hymns on our lips, in our glorious rebellion of the working man supported by the inteligentia and the world of culture. This “Solidarity”, solidarity of our nation quickly spread out like a giant tree.
And even though today its crown was cut off, its branches chopped up, the roots are still there, strong roots, because
they reside in human hearts and minds. That is why there will always be new buds and those will remind the world that the
tree is there. It exists, it lives.
I would like our prayerful recollection today to bear fruit outside the church, among the groups of friends meeting, and in places of work. Because all that goodness, beauty and nobility has multiplied in the past few years in our country and grew ever firmer into our daily lives.
In today’s, our anniversary deliberations , I would like to concentrate our thoughts on some very important words: Freedom, Truth, Justice, Solidarity.
FREEDOM. Christ’s work on earth was to show man a very important reality, that we are created into freedom, to the freedom of God’s children.
God created man free to such an extent that man is able to accept God, or to reject Him. Freedom is then a value which God injected into man the moment he was born. Disrespect of the right of freedom, especially freedom of mind and beliefs, is an action against the Creator Himself.
In our country, after time of severe limitations on personal freedom, the Nation had the right to expect that the termination of martial law and the amnesty would eliminate the mutual unpleasantness and grievances, and return their subjectiveness, which the Holy Father frequently asked for, to the citizens. We hoped that it would be possible to continue the dialogue, interrupted in December 1981, between the government and the people. The Nation was totally entitled to expect that we shall begin a united and concerted reconstruction of our country.
However, in order for all these expectations to materialize in our Motherland, one must always be directed by TRUTH.
Truth is the harmony of words and actions. One cannot accept as truth beautiful words and declarations of real agreement when these are parallel to an ever wider negation of citizen rights. The last legal regulations approved by the House of Representatives are certainly not for the good and in the interest of the people. They move the boundaries of personal freedom not just beyond 1980 or even 1956. They affect the freedom of thinking and the self government of the higher education establishments. They strike at the independence of thought among the academic youth. Is it that nothing has changed for ages, that means, since Plato who said:
“Every government approves laws for its own benefit”1?
Let us, at least, remind ourselves of some of the characteristics of a legal government according to the book “Resurrect Poland, Redeem the World” published by PAX in 1981.
(…) Government must always remain a servant to the people, because people have to serve one another; (…) It must always obey Truth and Justice; (…) It must truly govern, it must create common happiness, demanding from each per- son nothing more than it is willing to give of itself without any pressure, and does not have to use any kind of force or pressure on the people whom it rules…2
How then can we judge the power which wants to restore its authority by way of an innumerable lot of regulations and laws?
Truth is the combination of words and action.
It is true that man is God’s crowning creation and he cannot be subject to other goals, those not compatible with his ultimate goal of eternal life with God.
It is true, as Lech Walesa said in his conversation with Holy Father on the 27th of June, this year, that the time since the August Uprising is changing people’s spirit. The Nation now knows what it wants and that deep change cannot be turned back. It is true that the solidarity of our nation grew out of tears, injustices and the blood of workers and was the result of concern for our country. It is true that the August agreements were made with “Solidarity”, thus a national movement and not a labor union, which was created a few months later. Therefore, the breaking of the August agreements, in this hurtful manner, using force on that December night in 1981, signified the breaking of the dialog with the people. Because, as the bishops stated on December 15th, two days after the declaration of martial law:
(…) The government’s decision was a blow to the expectations and hopes that the path of mutual understanding could lead to a resolution of our Nation’s problems…3
It is true that “Solidarity” has the right of free existence, as she paid a high price for it.
It cost the nation a great deal. Some paid the highest price, their lives. Many paid with the loss of freedom for many months, many were sentenced to exile. Still today, those most faithful to their beliefs and their consciences, are prisoners. Many were forced to sign declarations contrary to their convictions. The Primate talked about it on January6, 1982:
(…) The order to sign a declaration on various topics and especially resignations from “Solidarity” has affected ever wider circles of workmen and refusal causes loss of employment.4
This is thus a means of survival paid for by great physical and mental suffering.
It is true that a nation forced to be silent and to keep per- forming productively for decades, sometimes raises its voice too high. But it is also true, as the late Primate said, “Solidarity, in a few months achieved more than the most efficient political bodies could reach…” It is also true that millions have joined the Union “Solidarity” spontaneously. And you, yourselves know best what is the situation today with the new unions, with all the existing pressures.
The next word which we should consider in our revue, in this prayerful recollection on our anniversary, is JUSTICE. Justice means equality with respect to law and impartiality of courts. It is the possibility of responding in the press, with- out censorship, to a scarrilous article directed at the Church which appeared in the weekly „Life of the Parish”(Zycie Parafii) on August 17th this year. One should here, perhaps, add the words of the late Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski when he said: “(…) If the enemy fights the Church, one can assume that it will serve him to fight the Nation”.
Justice means allowing everyone his rights.
It is the honest pay for honest work. It is not depriving one of his job or promotion because he wants something different for the good of his country.
Justice is the chance of responding to accusations which were made towards “Solidarity” in a pamphlet entitled “August Understandings” which, at the time of elevated prices, one could purchase for only 18 zloty. It is a chance to clean up Lech Walesa from public accusations that appeared in mass media just in the last few weeks. Justice is the pluralism of which we were being assured even under martial law, pluralism for trade unions, for creative groups without patron- age protection. It means creating for our youth, as the bishops at one time stated, conditions in which they could realize the formation of their personalities according to, chosen by them and not superimposed, principles where they could learn about public life in youth organizations which reflect their ideas about the world.
Justice is the amnesty with total removal of penalties for actions of which one was accused, from the repair of wrongs, especially moral wrongs. It is an agreement with guarantee that the Nation will not be deceived again, that the time of rebuilding of the Nation will not, in a few years, be again a time of mistakes and faults. That the effort and the work of the Nation will not be wasted.
And next, the very last word for our deliberations today is SOLIDARITY.
Solidarity means the togetherness of hearts, minds and hands that is rooted in ideals which can change the world for better.
It is the hope of all Poles. The hope that much stronger when it is united with the source of all hope, God.
Solidarity, as the Holy Father said on His return from Africa:
(…) it is the name of unity and community, it is the deep challenge which the Poles of the 80íes have undertaken.5
Solidarity is a very loud call asking for respect, for human dignity and, at the same time, recognition of others and their problems. It is the concern about those in prisons, a cry for their freedom, care of their families.
It is a brotherly concern for all those who have been deceived, who are discriminated against because of our common beliefs.It is the duty to do away with evil and the means of how it functions. It is the pointing out to our youth the many silenced historical events of our country.
Solidarity is, finally, the constant concern for the good of our Nation.
It is the maintenance of the internal freedom in an atmosphere of internal enslavement. It is the defeat within oneself of fear that squeezes the throat. It is the upkeep of one’s respect as a child of God and the brave admission that we are finally convinced about all which we believe and all that we carry in our hearts. And we know that it is good.
Let us close with the words that the Holy Father used when He was still the bishop of Cracow, and which I have cited already, last October:
Weak is the people when it accepts its defeat, when it forgets that it was sent to watch till its hour comes. Because on the great clockface of history the hours keep coming back.6
But we remember that people are strong when in their lives, and in their country they build on the foundations of Truth, Love, Justice and Solidarity of hearts and minds, in a prayerful union with the source of these values, the Father of All Peoples and Nations, Almighty God. Amen.
Finally, my dear people, in a special way I ask you today to return home in silence without giving anyone a chance to provoke us. No one must spoil our prayerful mood. Perhaps today we should avail ourselves of public transportation.
Let’s do that today. Let us accept the blessing. A special blessing for you, brother workers, and for all of us who want to, together with God, build goodness, happiness and prosperity to our Country.
1 Plato, The Republic, vol. translation by Wladyslaw Witwicki, publishe by Antyk, Kety 1997, p. 28.
2 Ludwig Krolilowski, People and Government in Resurrect Poland, Save the World…, Publisher Pax, Warsaw 1981, p. 244.
3 Chief Council of Episcopate of Poland Report 12/15/1981. In John Paul II, Primate and Episcopate of Poland on martial law, pp. 55-56.
4 Archbishop Jozef Glemp, Pastoral Teachings 1981–1982, p. 197. 108
5 Martial Law in Poland. Words of Holy Father on 2/24/1982, in “L’OR” 2/1982.
6 This text has not been found in the published works of Karol Wojtyla.