COVERING UP A WINDOW OF THE IMPRISONED PRIMATE…
FR. GABRIEL BARTOSZEWSKI OFMCap, MARIAN PIOTR ROMANIUK
During the investigations on the elaboration of the documentation about heroism of virtues of God’s Servant Stefan Wyszyński unknown materials from the period of his imprisonment in Rywald Królewski were discovered
After the brutal arrest and imprisonment of the Primate in a cell in the monastery of the Capucchins in Rywald Królewski with belief that nobody could find out about it, on the third day the Primate in his ‘Prison’s Notes’ placed the information: ‘My windows were covered up with tissue paper so that nobody would notice the Primate of Poland. Nobody will be able to hide these windows from the world. Anyway everybody will know where you have imprisoned me’. ‘Do not exaggerate’ said my interlocutor. ‘I do not exaggerate, but I state the fact about the reality which you do not know because you close your eyes to it. The position of the Primate of Poland means more in the world than any other hierarch in the Eastern Europe; and there is no solution to it. The world is interested in the fate of every cardinal – and there is no solution to it either. Somebody who knows Europe a little knows that these are not only words. Only big infatuation makes somebody shoot at citizens from a heavy cannon, instead of encourage him to use the human speech’ (28 September 1953).
The Journal of the Holy See ‘L’Osservatore Romano’ on 3 October 1953 started publishing texts of protests of many significant people and social groups against arrest of Stefan Cardinal Wyszyński.
Beside the private audience of diplomatic corps at the pope’s Pius XII on 19 November 1953, which was discussed in the first part of the article, the special attention should be given to the big manifestation of the Catholic Action in Rome in defence of heroic faith believers. It was led by the vicar of Rome cardinal Clemente Micara. Here is its description given by ‘L’Osservatore Romano’ from 23-24 October 1953:
‘In the morning hours in the Theatre Adriano a big group of Catholic laymen gathered together in order to manifest for the sake of the Church of silence. A significant part of the group were members of the Catholic Action. An hour earlier loud-speakers were installed on Piazza Cavour where a big crowd of people gathered together and were waiting for the speech of the chief chairperson of the Catholic Action prof. Luigi Gedda.
Inside the theatre on the scene a big crucifix was visible, there was a thorn twig near it and the inscription: UNITED WITH CARDINAL WYSZYŃSKI AND ALL THOSE WHO ARE IN PRISONS, KNOWN AND UNKNOWN, WHO ARE SUFFERING FOR FREEDOM AND JUSTICE. At the presidential table cardinal Micara was sitting and also dignified members: cardinal Luigi Traglia, archbishop Ettore Cunial, archbishop Józef Gawlin and prof. Gedda, as well as assistants and chairmen of main groups of the Catholic Action. Among significant guests there were among the others: the ambassador of Poland at the Holy See Kazimierz Papee and a trustee of the Rome.
Prof. Gedda gave a speech, interrupted many times by applauses. He emphasized that ‘two thousand years earlier the Christians created a community of free people who have the sense of brotherhood because they are sons of the same Father. This community is called the Church of Jesus Christ and is compared to the human body, as St. Paul taught- when one part of the body is suffering, the whole body is painful (see Corinthian 12.26). Yes, we, the Catholics of the whole world, when one martyr has a fall, every Christian is dipped in blood which he worships because he touches Christ. For these reasons the Roman people express their proud solidarity with the Polish nation, with which they have the sense of religious relation and freedom. At this moment it is necessary to emphasize that in Poland there are 96 per cent Catholics who inspired the development of art and culture and gave a lot of saints (…)’.
Prof. Gedda referred to cardinal Wyszyński who could not accept the cardinal’s hat and his own title [to the basilica] in Rome, therefore he became a symbol of slavery: ‘The cardinal’s hat is a sign of martyrdom, which cardinal Wyszyński had already proved. It became a sign of faith confession and martyrdom of the Polish Nation. It was the last station of the Road of the Cross. The first one was Ukraine, later Lithuania, Estonia, Albania, Yugoslavia with the famous martyr cardinal Alojzy W. Stepinac; Czech Republic where the archbishop of Prague Josef Beran was arrested; Hungary with cardinal József Mindszentym, Romania, Bulgaria, China, Korea and Eastern Germany. The fourteenth station is martyrdom of Catholic Poland. Indeed, it is new Calvary where the Church is suffering under the hard yoke of communist regime. It is history which repeats throughout centuries. Because the Church cares about God’s law and defends the conscience freedom, it is ‘s beast’ which is trying to destroy it.
All martyrs of each nation enslaved by communism, cardinals, bishops, priests and believers deserve our gratitude at this moment.
– I believe – said prof. Gedda – that the example of Mindszenti, Stepinac, Wyszyński and Beran should be a particular and appealing example. (…)
Our meeting is held a few days from the moment when the supreme Pastor hosted ambassadors from 40 countries who expressed their words of sympathy in relation to the imprisonment of cardinal Wyszyński. We also want to express this sympathy on behalf of all the Romans, like the ambassadors did on behalf of their nations. We feel that communists, sentencing three cardinals and hundreds of bishops to imprisonment, want to imprison the Pope. We want to say that the Catholics are not sleeping like the Apostles did in Gethsemane, that there will be a day of freedom for the Slavic and Latin nations. We are sure that in a few days the Year of Mary will be open. The spirit of faith, hope and love will blow on the day of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Mary the Virgin from the Basilica of Our Lady the Granter and will flow to the monastery in Częstochowa.
After the speech of prof. Gedda, cardinal Micar spoke. He thanked the speaker for wonderful words and inhabitants of Rome for wonderful confession of faith as well as solidarity with those who are fighting and suffering in defence of the human dignity and their holiest rights:
‘At this moment our thought is running to all wonderful nations which are suffering and are being oppressed. (…)To all priests, monks, bishops and two cardinals deprived of freedom, having a hard term of imprisonment, as it results from the speech of the Pope to the diplomatic corps. These sufferings left behind a new wound in the heart of the Holy Father. (…)You, the Romans, who are close to the Holy Father as sons of his beloved diocese – the vicar of Rome was concluding – should want to make the relationship with the Pope stronger today. Pray for the Pope so that Lord would shorten these painful experiences of the Church (…)’.
The manifestation ended with singing the faith confession while standing by a big and wonderful congregation which received apostolic blessing from cardinal Micar’.
The arrest of cardinal Stefan Wyszyński by Polish communists also was reflected with a loud echo in other countries of the Catholic West. Among the others, cardinal Bernard William Griffin, the archbishop of Westminster, on 4 October 1953 in the church of Our Lady in Muswell Hill in London preached a sermon on the occasion of 25 years of celebrating the Holy Mass in this church. He announced that pope Pius XII proclaimed the Year of Mary on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of proclaiming the dogma about the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Mary the Virgin. He also referred to the situation being in Poland and the imprisonment of cardinal Stefan Wyszyński. In his strong words he emphasized: ‘On behalf of the Catholics of the Great Britain we announce the solemn protest against the arrest of the Primate of Poland. We fully recognize his courage and resistance towards satanic attacks on the Church, and we are full of respect to his patient attitude towards the constant provocation and we reject the accusations that the cardinal was acting against the interests of the country.
We give the Polish nation respect and assurance about our prayer at the time of persecutions. We speak strongly not to provoke new attacks against him but for fear of the fact that our silence would be the excuse for their behavior. (…). The Polish nation, similarly as our nation, distinguishes with a great divine service to Our Lady. Let’s ask Our Lady during the forthcoming Year of Mary, to comfort and give strength to persecuted Catholics of the Church of Silence’ (‘L’Osservatore Romano’ no. 273/1953, p.2).
The series of these protests in the Vatican journal is opened with a message of cardinal Clemente Micary, published in the first part of this article. In order to illustrate the scale of protests of various personalities and institutions, here we publish texts of some of them:
– On behalf of the Dean of the Cardinals’ College, I express Your Holiness the words of sympathy because of the brutal and incredible attack on the member of the Church Senate Stefan Cardinal Wyszyński, the archbishop of Gniezno and Warsaw. We express the biggest protest because of the infringement of basic human and Divine rights. Members of the Cardinals’ College express their prayers in the intention for Your Holiness, so that Merciful God would give You strength in this deep pain. May God give freedom to our Brother and strengthen the local Church which is suffering so much.
Cardinal Clemente Micara in charge of the Dean of the Cardinals’ College.
– On behalf of clergy and believers of the diocese of Cologne I express Your Holiness the words of sympathy because of the imprisonment of J.E. Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski. We protest against injustice done to the Church and we are suffering together with the persecuted Church. We pray so that God would give grace and strength to bishops, priests and believers in this experience.
Cardinal Joseph Frings, the archbishop of Cologne.
– Facing the new violence done to the Church and infringement of its rights, the Catholics from Bolonia express a definite protest, remaining very related to the Office of Your Holiness and they pray so that God’s justice would win.
Cardinal Giacomo Lercaro, the archbishop of Bolonia.
– Having received the message about the imprisonment of Cardinal Archbishop of Warsaw, the XXVII Social Congregation of Italian Catholics gives Your Holiness the words of the deepest sympathy, expresses a protest against the slander done to the ecclesiastical hierarchy and prays in the intention for God’s graces in defence and for triumph of the Catholic Church.
Cardinals: Giuseppe Siri and Ernesto Ruffini
– On behalf of the Order, the General Superior of the Order of Carmelites expresses the words of sympathy to Your Holiness because of new persecutions of the Church and the arrest of cardinal Stefan Wyszyński, which hurt Your fatherly heart, and asks Lord, through the intercession of Mary the Virgin glorified by you so much, so that Her heart would triumph everywhere, strengthening souls, particularly the heart of Your Holiness.
– Diocesan Council of Rome expresses indignation and protest because of the assassination on the freedom of Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński and insult of the Apostolic College. It asks all below signed groups to start expiatory prayers for strengthening Your Holiness. It renews brotherly willingness of spreading Christian rules, sources of real civilization.
– On behalf of 12 thousand Catholics the Diocesan Presidium D.I.A.C. Udine participates in deep pain of Your Fatherly heart because of new persecutions against Bishops and the Cardinal of Catholic Poland. It asks God for Christian strength for innocent victims of atheistic communism.
The Chairman, Assistant.
– Catholic men in the Diocese of Guastalla express the words of protest and condemnation against persecutions of the Cardinal and Polish Bishops. We also refer this attack to the Holy Father and the Catholic Hierarchy.
– Catholic Professors of Rome express their deep pain because of sacrilegious insult of the Church of Jesus Christ by the arrest of Stefan Cardinal Wyszyński and express Your Holiness the words of deep respect and devotion
– We, the employees, the President, Assistant ACLI of the parish of Angels the Guardians in Rome, moved by the insult done to Polish brothers, whose Primate became a victim of communist satanic hatred, express Your Holiness the words of consolation and prayer, asking for apostolic blessing, and proving the Christian relationship of workers’ masses.
Even 3187 petitions, telegrams and letters about the freeing of the Polish cardinal had been sent to Vatican till 5 December 1953. So, for two months the Vatican journal was publishing texts of the telegrams on the first pages, sent to Pius XII. Their copies were passed to the Centre of the Polish Pastoral Ministry in Rome at Via delle Botteghe Oscure (see ‘Polish Pastor Abroad’, no. 2/1954, p. 169).
Here is the short figures statement, presenting the scale of interest of the free world in the fate of the Primate of Poland:
– Representatives of countries - 12
– Cardinals – 74 (some cardinals sent a few telegrams as superiors of various ecclesiastical institutions)
– Archbishops and bishops – 606
– Cathedral Chapters – 34
– Orders and male convents – 142
– Female convents
– Parishes – 697
– Universities – 115
– Organizations – 1207
And there is also an index of representatives of countries distanced from Poland who sent telegrams to the Holy Father Pius XII on behalf of their governments and nations:
– Joseph P. Walsche, the ambassador of Ireland at Vatican and the dean of the diplomatic corps
– Ambassador Menchaca Aramburu on behalf of the government and the nation of Peru
– Frank Aiken, the Foreign Minister of Ireland
– Juan Vicente Lecuna, the ambassador of Venezuela
– Alfredo Galindo Quiroga, the ambassador of Bolivia
– The embassy of Liberi at Vatican
– Pierre L. Liautaud, the Foreign Secretary of Haiti
– The Foreign Minister of Salvador
– Ambassador of Lebanon
– Governor of the Brazilian state De Minas Gerais
– Federico Chaves, the president of Paraguay
In the beginning we quoted a report of one of the most important meetings in defence of the kidnapped and imprisoned Primate of Poland. There were much more such meetings. They did not bring an anticipated result, but thanks to them the free world found out about persecution of the Church in Poland by communists, who did not even hesitate arrest and imprison God’s Servant Stefan Wyszyński. The official diplomatic note which Kazimierz Papee as an ambassador of Poland at the Holy See probably sent to Warsaw on behalf of Pius XII, was not understood by the Polish communist government. We do not have a confirmation of this fact in documents, but we know it only from reports of other people.