Father Jerzy

Janek Skarzynski, AFP/File, murder, news, nuns

News:Op-Ed: Murder of Polish priest may offer clues in Boris Nemtsov’s case

Authoritarian, corrupt or rogue regimes, their leaders, and their beneficiaries often behave in similar ways in different countries. They fear their democratic opponents and rely on the secret police to keep themselves in power through monitoring, intimidating, jailing and sometimes killing those who may challenge their repressive rule. Although Poland of the 1980s and today’s Russia are not exactly alike, there may be enough similarities worth exploring between the 1984 murder of a Catholic priest in Poland and the assassination of Russian opposition leader and former Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov in Moscow last week.

February 28 1982 1

[opening remarks] Holy Mass for the Fatherland on February 28 1982 was celebrated by Fr. Jerzy Popieluszko. In place of the homily he read to the congregation in the Church of St. Stanislaus Kostka the Declaration of Polish Bishops.

We gather in the name of Jesus Christ. We gather to place our prayers at Christ’s altar and with them everything that we are experiencing, at this moment, in the life of our Nation. We especially include in our prayers those whom the martial law has touched most painfully. We take in all those deprived of their freedom, those arrested, retained, deprived of work, and their families. We also include all those who serve the injustice and the lies.

[declarations of Polish Bishops and the Primate]

The Church always stands on the side of truth. The Church is always on the side of those who are harmed. Today, the Church stands on the side of those who have been deprived of freedom, whose consciences are being attacked. The Church stands today on the side of workers’ solidarity, on the side of working people who are frequently put into the same category as criminals. On December 15th, last year, Polish Bishops said the following ¹”

Chief Episcopal Council of Poland gathering in the time of martial law, based on the available information of the situation in Poland – directs to the faithful of Catholic Church, words of support, unity and brotherly sympathy. Our pain of the entire nation terrorized by military power. Many members of the union movement have been interned. Interment is widening and affecting workers as well as people of culture and learning and students. (…) The uncertainty and impotence of the working world causes increased emotions, bitterness and hate, to the point of determination. (…) The dramatic decision of the authorities to impose martial law on our country is a blow to the expectations and hopes that, through nation-wide understanding, one can resolve the existing problems of our country. (…) We wish the Church and the people to concentrate on the following goals.

The release of those interned and establishing for them acceptable living conditions. We are aware of many cases of abused, of placing people without warm closing in freezing quarters.
The re-activation of labor unions, especially “Solidarity”, as per their statutes, and this includes the enabling the Leader and the Committee to function freely. The union “Solidarity” which defends the rights of working people is vital to the return of equilibrium in public life…
And on January 6 of the current year (1982) on the day of the Epiphany of Our Lord, the Primate said:

Who was Blessed Father Jerzy Popieluszko

Who was Blessed Father Jerzy Popieluszko? We will tell you about his early life in a later writing.  But as the 30th Anniversary of his martyrdom approaches on October 19th, I wanted to write an overview of this remarkable man and his heroic life in the four years before his murder. From the day he found his voice in 1980, he preached the Good News of the Risen Christ. His sermons, based on his deep love for his country and his faith brought the first hint that freedom was possible in a country that had known nothing but Russia’s one-party rule the last 40 years.. But this talk of personal and political freedom also brought stern warnings from the communist government. For those who attended his services, the potential of a beating or arrest was just outside the doors of his church. And yet the crowds for his once-a-month ‘Masses for The Fatherland’ grew to over 25,000 people. The Secret Police were ordered to stop what the government was calling ‘seances of hate’ and so he was arrested, over and over again, strip searched and humiliated. But after each attempt to scare him he would return to his podium and speak with even more conviction, about non-violence and human rights. By late 1984, the communist government in Poland had heard enough. On October 19, 1984 – 37-year-old Father Jerzy Popieluszko’s call for a non-violent resolution to 40 years of Russian occupation and oppression were silenced by the secret police. He was, kidnapped, gagged, hog-tied and then beaten […]