May 27 1984, Live by truth, is gaining the virtue of bravery

[opening remarks]
As every month, we embrace all our hardships and the painful concerns of our Country in our sincere prayer. Today we send our prayers to the throne of our Heavenly Father through the Holy Mother to whom the month of May is especially dedicated. We ask for the day when, in our nation, brother will not hatefully raise his hand against brother. For the day when those imprisoned for their beliefs will come home and will be able to give unconditionally their strength, their minds and their hearts to their Country. For the day when everybody who had been deprived of his job, for various reasons, will be able to work again. For the day when our Country will have peace, love, justice and true freedom.

Holy Mass for the Fatherland on May 27, 1984 was celebrated by Fr. Jerzy Popieluszko who delivered the sermon.


During the disgraceful, for all humanity, process of Jesus Christ, Pilate put forward a question which was, and always will be, timely: „What is the truth?”.

For a Christian the answer to this question is simple, Christ Himself gave it when He said about himself: “I am the way, the truth and the life”(J 4, 6). Christ is then the truth, and everything He proclaimed is true. Lies had no means of reaching His mouth. It is for this truth, which He loudly pro- claimed, that He gave His life.

The apostles, for whom Christ became the only truth, gave up their lives for Him proclaiming His teachings to the world. Truth and bravery are two very important values in the life of man and particularly in the life of a Christian. I would like to try today to consider more closely the meaning of these two values in our lives. Truth is a very delicate possession in our minds. The desire for truth was given to us by God. This is why each human being is naturally driven to truth and away from lies. Truth always connects with love and love is clear, true love is giving and that is why it costs.

Truth which costs nothing is a lie.

To live in truth is to be always at peace with your con- science. Truth always unites people and makes them work together. The greatness of truth frightens and unmasks the lies of scared little people. The continuous fight against truth has been going on for centuries. But truth is immortal, lies die a quick death. So, as the late Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski said:

(…) one does not need many people who are truthful. Christ chose but a few to proclaim the truth. One only needs many lies because lies refer to details, they are like objects on a store shelf, always needing to be changed, requiring a lot of service, people who learn the program just for today, for this week, for this year, and then have to be hastily instructed again. In order to grasp the whole structure of a pre-programmed lie, you need lots of people. One does not need that many to proclaim the truth. We can have a small group of truthful individuals and they will make the truth shine brightly. People will find them and come from afar to hear the true words…1

We cannot accept and be satisfied with easy and superficial propaganda, generated and enforced truths. We must learn to separate lies from truths. It is not easy in our times, the times we live in now, times about which our poet said that: “never before have our backs been beaten with the club of falsehood and hypocrisy…”2. It is not easy today, when in the past decades, officially, the programs of the layman’s view of the world evolved from capitalism and masonry of the 19th century. They were planting it in a nation which, for the past thousand years, had been growing in Christianity.

Each one of us here could give many examples of everything that does not promote progress of truth and the strengthening of social solidarity in our country. Let us look at some of them.

Lies and half-truths flowing by means of mass media do not serve the promotion of truth in the country. Neither does the creation of television programs exclusively for official propaganda, lay May 27 1984, Live by truth, is gaining the virtue of braverymorality, as if Poland had no Christian citizens. After all, believing people have a right to religious films, lectures on the gospel, the right to follow the activities of the Holy Father who is the pride of the Nation.

Promotion of truth is not helped by censorship which sharply directs itself not only against the evil but also against honorable good actions and deeds. This is demonstrated by the elimination from the Catholic press of the words of the Holy Father and the Primate.

The late Primate of the Millennium said:

(…) surgery on magazines is common and known. One eliminates from a publication, or silences first of all what is in the Catholic view wholesome, firm and convincing. (…Only and exclusively a Catholic cannot advertise effectively his viewpoints. Not only is he prohibited to counter opposite views, or argue them some other way, but simply, he is not allowed to defend his own viewpoints, or general viewpoints against the toughest and most damaging criticism. He can- not correct the lies which others have complete freedom to declare and spread out without consequences…3

Let us look at a concrete example of “Tygodnik Powszechny” of May 20th of this current year where the censorship intervened twenty-three times.

Superimposing the materialistic point of view by all possible means of propaganda and representation of Marxism as the sole means of resolving labor problems does not help in the promotion of truth. Here I again quote the statements of Cardinal Wyszynski in June 1980:

We have to realize… that today, the hope of resolving Proletarism through Marxism is diminishing. The complete inability of this doctrine comes to light and it turns out that Marxism in effect rebuilds capitalism making man dependent on the system of production, thus enslaving him again…4

It does not help the nation to defame truth and showing in negative light everything which “Solidarity” has achieved, as well as erasing in every possible way the traces of “Solidarity”. The Nation knows that to the word, about which the Holy Father said lately, “it is a proud word”, are tied the hopes and the longings of millions of Poles.

It does not help the promotion of truth when people are imprisoned for their beliefs. Since, if “Solidarity” leaders and our other brothers were in prison for lying, would the Church put so much care and concern to defend them? Would it press for their release?

Truth is not served by might and show of strength.

Force is a lie because it destroys the very thing it supposedly defends. In order to govern a country well, one must give up violence and lies, and then, peace will return and with it conditions for a successful reconstruction.

Life can not be cheated, just like one cannot cheat the earth. If you sow chaff, you will get weeds.

The Gospel of Christ, so fruitful throughout centuries is ever current because it is the truth. Ideologies which are directed by lies and force, fall. They bring bad fruit and moral decay. We have all too many cases of this in the history of Europe and the World.

The basic condition for freeing man to gain truth and to live by truth, is gaining the virtue of bravery. The sign of Christian bravery is the fight for truth. The virtue of bravery is the overcoming of human weakness, especially fear and dread. Because, in our lives, we only have to fear betraying Christ in exchange for a few silver coins of fruitless peace.

Christians must not be satisfied to simply conquer evil, lies, cowardice, slavery, hate, oppression. But a Christian must be a true witness, declarer and defender of justice, goodness, truth, freedom and love. He must bravely demand these values from himself and from others.“Only a brave man can truly be wise and just”(John Paul II).

Pity the country whose citizens do not rule themselves with bravery! They stop being citizens and become ordinary slaves… If a citizen gives up the virtue of bravery he be- comes a slave and does great damage to himself, his personality, his family, his co-workers, his nation, his country, his Church. Even if it is because he gave into fright and concern in return for his daily bread, or other minor reasons…

But also:

(…) Pity the rulers who want to gain a following for the price of fear, fear of slavery!… If the powers govern scared citi- zens, they lower their authority, and upset the value of the nation’s cultural, professional and general life…5

Concern about bravery should be in the authorities’ as well as the citizens’ interest. To a considerable extent we are guilty of our enslavement when, because we are afraid, or just for convenience, we accept the evil and even vote for means of enabling it. If we do this because of fear or for convenience we have no right to criticize it, because we are the creators and we allow it to become legal.

In August 1980, the workers passed the exam of bravery, and many of them continue to do it. The students in Mietno displayed bravery when they stood up in the defense of Christ’s cross. Our imprisoned brothers passed the exam when they declined freedom for the price of betraying our ideals. Finally, let the realization of the fact that the nation is dying when it lacks bravery, when it lies to itself saying that all is well when that is not so, when we are satisfied with half-truths.

Let us be aware every day that demanding freedom, we ourselves must be truthful. Demanding justice, we must be just to those near us. Demanding courage and bravery, we must be courageous and brave every day.


[closing remarks]

I thank everyone who has participated in our common prayer for our Nation and those who most suffer for her. I especially thank our brothers, the clergy. Some of them have come from other dioceses to pray together with us. We wish to respond to the great many questions pertaining to some matters. We want to answer them on the basis of the proclamation of the Polish Episcopate on September 10th 1946 „Pole, the

Catholic with Respect to the State and Elections”

First: Church has the right and the obligation to teach the faithful about their rights and duties with respect to the State.

Second: Catholics, as members of the State, have the right to express their political beliefs.

Third: Catholics may not belong to organizations or parties whose beliefs are contrary to Christian teaching, or whose activities and practices are directed to the undermining of the Christian ethic.

Fourth: Only persons who have high morals, which means persons who understand the essentials of common good of the citizens may aspire to government positions.

Fifth: Church does not participate in political party discussions, it only defines moral and religious principles according to which the Catholics themselves must guide their con- science.

Sixth: Catholics may vote only for such persons and election programs, which are not contrary to Catholic teachings and morality.

Seventh: Catholics may not vote for lists of candidates whose programs, or methods of administration are contrary to healthy reasoning, the good of the Nation, Christian morality and Catholic point of view.

Eighth: When Catholics vote they must be certain that freedom of religion will be assured, that teachers, youth and children will not be ver- bally deceived because of their religious believes, the political prisoners will be released and all others will be treated humanely, that personal freedom will be respected, and the office of media control will not restrict author’s rights, that television will not transmit immoral and scandalous programs.

Ninth: Catholics and all who believe in God must not allow themselves to be frightened by any- thing and should fully appreciate their spiritual strength.

As always. please remember that we are leaving a house of prayer. Therefore I ask you to leave in absolute silence. Let us not give excuse to those who might wish to destroy this prayerful disposition

Let us receive God’s blessing for endurance and bravery.

1 Stefan Cardinal Wyszynski, “Truthful Teacher” – to the teachers in War- saw 11/6/1960, see: Social Teachings 1946-1981, p. 173.

2 An anonymous handwritten poem given to Fr. Jerzy Popieluszko.

3 Stefan Cardinal Wyszynski, Non possumus. Letter of the polish Episcopate to the government approved at the Episcopate Conference 5/8/1953, see: Primate of the Millenneum, p. 78.

4 This quotation has not been located.

5 Stefan Cardinal Wyszynski, That You Be Brave and Strong – sermon at the close of recollections for doctors. Warsaw 5/3/1960, see: Blessing of professional work, p. 191-192.