Irish Hierarchy’s Statement on the Persecution of the Church in Poland

The archbishops and bishops of Ireland at their October meeting in Maynooth in 1953, under the presidency of the Cardinal Primate of All-Ireland, John D’Alton, issued the following statement concerning the persecution of the Catholic Church in Poland.

Ever since the end of the war a bitter persecution of the Catholic Church has been carried on in Communist-dominated countries.

Whilst it has brought grievous suffering on the laity, it has been directed primarily against bishops and priests. The enemies of God and His Church, now as in the past, recognise that its rulers and pastors are the great bulwark of Christianity and confidently expect that if they are destroyed, Christianity itself will soon perish.

In Poland hitherto the persecution was less severe than elsewhere; the openly barbaric methods adopted in other places were not deemed opportune in a country where the great majority of the people were deeply religious and intensely loyal to the Church. Now, evidently, the time is considered ripe for an intensification of the effort to uproot religion altogether in this unhappy land. Catholics and, indeed, all Christians and those who cherish liberty the world over, have been shocked by the treatment which has been recently meted out to two distinguished Polish prelates, Bishop Kaczmarek and Cardinal Wyszynski.

The bishop was arrested, put in prison and when, at last, his reason was practically destroyed, was given the usual Communist mock trial, and condemned to imprisonment for a long term of years.

The treatment of the Cardinal Primate, when one considers his exalted dignity, was even more outrageous. He, too, was arrested, forcibly removed from his office and sent to a place of confinement where it is impossible for him to discharge his duties as an archbishop.

We, the Cardinal Primate, archbishops and bishops of Ireland, assembled in general meeting at Maynooth College, protest solemnly against the outrages committed against the persons of these two devoted prelates and we offer them, their suffering flocks and the whole Polish people, our deepest sympathy.

We ask our priests and people to join with us in praying that God may alleviate their suffering and strengthen them in resisting persecution and that He may soon dispel the dark cloud of evil which hangs over the devout and ever-faithful land of Poland.

We further request that the special October devotions to be offered for these objects and that, on the Feast of Christ the King, at Holy Mass and Communion and in special prayers before the Blessed Sacrament, all unite in making reparation to Our Divine Redeemer for these injuries done to Him and to His Church.

To no one have the outrages committed against these two Polish prelates caused greater distress than to the Holy Father, whose heart is already burdened with many such sorrows. We tender to His Holiness also our heartfelt sympathy in these latest afflictions and we assure him of our prayers and the prayers of our devoted flocks, that God may console him in his sorrows, guide him in the difficulties which beset his path and hasten the day when a truly just and Christian peace will assuage the miseries of his children.

Posted on January 24, 2011, in Archbishop John Charles McQuaid, Bishop Con Lucey, Bishop Michael Browne, Bishops' Pastorals, Cardinal John D'Alton, Communism, Irish History, Persecution, Pius XII. Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. I think it is a result of the persecution, that the Church here in Poland is very strong, loved, and totally orthodox.

    Again, valuable post. Thank you.

  2. Im Polish. I didn’t know such document existed, and I’m pleased to discover it. Thank’s for posting it!
    Cardinal Wyszynski was the real leader of our nation, and Catholic Church in times of communism was always opposed to the Communist Party, so it was natural for people who disliked this political system to side with the Church. I’m not sure if I’m right making such comparison, but I feel it was much like in Northern Ireland(Irish=Catholic, and British=Protestant). In Poland it used to be Polish=Catholic and Communist=Atheist, even if many people were members of Communist Party just to avoid trouble(as we put it, technically communist, but non-believer ;-)). Association of Poles with Catholicism is even older, I think it originates from the times of partitions, where there was no Poland on maps of Europe for 123 years. The Russians tried to make us Orthodox, Germans were associated with Protestantism. So it was natural to keep the catholic faith and Polish national identity. The two were inseparable. So in communism, the Church was hope that one day we would live in a free country at last. Unfortunately, this heritage of resistance is slowly being forgotten and people are starting to think, the times of communism weren’t that bad at all, that contemporary leftists are young, dynamic, well-educated and progressive. The Church is more often accused of being too political (well, in times of communism it was welcomed, but now criticised). There are no figures like Wyszynski, who would be the true leader of the church. Well, I could moan like this even longer 😉

  3. Fascinating comments Joanna, thanks.

    Well, I could moan like this even longer

    Please do!

  4. I’m pleased you like my overlong comment.
    I’ll use this oportunity to change the subject slightly, if you don’t mind. I’ll just add, that the Church in Poland seems to face the same problem as the Church in other countries, namely the priests, bishops and archbishops should speak in one voice (I hope you know what I mean, English is not my native language) and especially, never ever openly question official teaching of the Church. If they don’t seem to believe in what the Church says, why should laity? If one bishop criticises on TV what another says, which of them is right?
    Just a word about Church leaders. Now the most popular clergy member in Poland seems to be Abp. Stanislaw Dziwisz, former secretary of John Paul II. Many people respect him as living witness of late Pope’s life. Those who know him personally say he’s humble, friendly and wise, but when he goes on TV he’s no charismatic leader who would show the way and Truth at all. To me it seems he’s just shining the reflected sunlight of JPII. When he speaks, I’ve got the feeling he’s just trying to please people, to say what’s expected of him. That’s not what I expect from the Church leader.
    For some elderly Poles the leader is father Rydzyk-founder of Radio Maryja -a very conservative radio station concentrated on traditional forms of worship and prayer like Rosary(said live by people calling), promotion of spiritual legacy of John Paul II, meditating the Bible and criticising politicians who are not promoting catholic values(whatever they mean to them). This radio station listeners also have a very strong feeling of unity, mixed with besieged fortress syndrome.
    There are many priests or monks who are trying to attract young people to the Church, but in most cases in this watery “Jesus loves you no matter what you do”-style -modern, ecumenical, completely opposed to Tradition and mysticism of the Faith. Nobody is trying to teach the youth what Tradition means, the mystery of the Faith. Some of the young people are discovering it on their own, but they are few.
    Before the WWII Poland used to be multicultural country, in XVII(or so) century even called the country of tolerance. There were many Jews, mercilessly killed by Nazi Germans. Many of Jews who survived were forced to leave Poland in late 60’s, by communists. Now Poland is about 85-95% catholic, and that means the number of baptized. But there are still more and more people “believing in God but not in the Church”. Some atheists are claiming their rights to be “unbaptized”, or crossed out of church documents, because they were “forcibly baptized” as children and now they don’t want to be counted as Catholics in statistics. The more I’m hearing about it, the more I understand Fulton Sheen when he says (I don’t remember exact quoting)you shouldn’t let your children attend a catholic school, because you need them to learn how to defend their faith. In Poland it’s so common to be a Catholic that people don’t feel the need to learn about their religion. The Church has become institution. People are doing this or that because that’s what you always did, but why? What’s the symbolism hidden in those customs?
    Let’s consider Confirmation, now often called in Poland an “official goodbye to the Church”. Young people must learn answers to some questions, and pass an examination checking their knowledge. They must attend mass (if I remember correctly) daily. Attendance is checked in everyone’s special notebooks. If you’ve got a group of rebellious, bored people there’s no chance they will discover the mystery of Faith.
    Btw, Internet made me aware of liturgical abuses in western Europe and in the USA. I’m lucky that all the churches I happen to visit are old, and the priests rather traditional (that means Novus Ordo but following the “say the black do the red” rule, how uninventive ;-)).
    Now, that’s what I call moaning 😉
    Have a blessed Suday.

  5. Of course in last words, I meant “Sunday”.

  6. Fascinating and very informative Joanna, thanks again.

    RE: the liturgy, how common is the TLM in Poland? I seem to remember the Polish bishops being very hostile to Summorum Pontificum when it was released.

  7. Well, I’m sure there are people in Poland who would have answered your question much better than I. Mostly because all the places where traditionalists are really active are far far away from my region, so I was not paying attention to certain dates and places because I wouldn’t go that far anyway. Unfortunately, I’ve never had chance to attend Latin Mass. I only watched it on YouTube(and I’m also pleased that parts of the Mass on EWTN are said in Latin, it should be like this everywhere). I’d love to attend it, but it’s not so easy. In the vicinity there is only one place where you can attend TLM I know of, about 30 km from the place I leave, and surprisingly it’s in a village. Once a month, or so, but regularly. You can’t get there on Sunday unless you’ve got a car(I don’t). I’ve no idea how many people attend.
    Situation is much better in big cities, for example there is a TLM in Krakow in at least one church every Sunday morning(I’m not sure because it’s opposite end of Poland, I’m from the North, 50 km from the Russian border). But there are problems I know from Internet. In one case there was supposed to be TLM and some people made a long way to attend it, and the priest just celebrated Ordinary Form Mass. Another case, of the Mass that was scheduled but when people came the door was closed and there was no mass at all. I think it’s because “inventive liturgy” is not so popular in Poland as it is in the West there are not so many people interested in TLM. They are generally pleased that the Mass is said in Polish, because otherwise “you wouldn’t understand anything” and, in the case of some elderly family members “we had to pray Rosary to not waste time, because it was all in Latin and you only knew by the melody what part of the Mass it was”. So the main reason to choose the Mass in Polish is that it’s…in Polish. People I asked about it are not aware of other differences.
    Reading blogs and message boards of Polish traditionalists I see another problem, and I would call it … well, attitude. Some people just condemn Novus Ordo Missae, VII and so on and you’ve got the feeling they feel better as if they belonged to some secret society, looking down on unsuspecting faithful attending just Ordinary Form. It’s not the way to encourage others to come to TLM. Reading some blogs you would get the impression that even if you know of TLM somewhere in your town, you can’t just come and attend. Luckily most of Latin Mass lovers are very open and are trying to make people understand the meaning of this Mass. If I were a priest I would be afraid to celebrate TLM (even after preparation)because judging by the content of some blogs I would have had the impression of jury sitting in pews just behind my back, making notes of what they thought I had done incorrectly. There are people who think they just know better.
    It’s fascinating that Internet, such a modern medium, has become useful tool for traditionalists! Actually, my whole knowledge about TLM and people who are interested in Catholic Tradition come from Internet. There are many blogs and websites dedicated to TLM and generally to Tradition, sometimes as something opposed to rotten fruits of the Vaticanum II 😉 Of course, there is a wide range of attitudes, from people being completely against modern liturgy (Sedevacantists, FSSPX supporters and other people who condemn the VII) through FSSP to people who think that Novus Ordo is not so bad when said correctly and with respect, but who would like to attend TLM whenever possible because it allows them to feel the Mystery of the Mass, and because Latin is something that made the Church really Universal (Catholic, that is).
    I know there is a meeting of traditional liturgy lovers organised every year, it’s called Tradicamp. There are smaller meetings more often, organised by the same people.
    There are some unusual events. I think there is a TLM as a part of reenactment of Battle of Grunwald (that took place in year 1410), but only people dressed medieval were allowed there. I also heard of a wedding of 2 Medieval-lovers, TLM + Medieval outfits, that had to be impressive!
    I’m sorry if I didn’t answer your question as it should be done.

  8. Thanks again for another very interesting and informative comment Joanna. Much obliged.

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