The highest distinction for Fr Popieluszko
On the 25th anniversary of Fr Jerzy Popieluszko’s death several dozen thousand people from all over Poland prayed at his grave in the district of Zoliborz in Warsaw. During the main celebrations Poland’s President Lech Kaczynski awarded posthumously the murdered Chaplain of Solidarity the highest state distinction: the Order of the White Eagle.
The crowds of believers gathered at the Church of St Stanislaw Kostka in Warsaw consisted of many people who had participated in Masses for the Homeland celebrated by Fr Popieluszko 25 years ago. Marianna Popieluszko, the mother of the Priest who had been murdered by the Security Police, was present as usual. President Lecz Kaczynski handed her the Order of the White Eagle. As we can read the distinction was conferred on Fr Popieluszko in recognition of his great merits in pastoral work and for supporting by word and deed the fight for independent and just Poland. ‘God and the Church will evaluate his activities as a priest. Today on behalf of the nation I have evaluated his activities as a patriot’, Lech Kaczynski said. The family of Fr Popieluszko decided to offer the medal, like many other remains, to the museum of Fr Popieluszko.
The representatives of the state authorities, the Parliament and the city of Warsaw participated in the solemn Mass. Together with Archbishop Kazimierz Nycz of Warsaw several dozen priests, including the colleague of Fr Jerzy Jan Kopiec who met him during the compulsory army service and who is now the auxiliary bishop of Opole, co-celebrated the liturgy. ‘We pray that Benedict XVI gave us the blessed martyr Fr Popieluszko during the Year for Priests. This beatification is not only needed for priests but also for the whole people of God’, Archbishop Nycz said.
Other celebrations related to the 25th anniversary of the death of the Chaplain of ‘Solidarity’ were held all over Poland. Mass was celebrated near the reservoir in Wloclawek where the body of Fr Popieluszko was found. There were scientific conferences, exhibitions and concerts in many Polish cities.