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Remembering Cardinal Wyszyński

PR dla Zagranicy
Peter Gentle 28.05.2011 09:11
Today marks the 30th anniversary of the death of Stefan Cardinal Wyszyński, often called in Poland ‘the Primate of the Millennium’.


He died on 28 May 1981 at the age of seventy nine. A mass for his beatification will be celebrated in St John’s Cathedral in Warsaw at noon on Saturday by the Papal Nuncio Archbishop Celestino Migliore. Cardinal Jozef Glemp, who succeeded Stefan Wyszyński as Primate, now in retirement, will take part in the anniversary celebrations in the Black Madonna shrine of Czestochowa.

Cardinal Wyszyński was at the helm of the Catholic Church in Poland as Primate for over three decades. During the communist repression against the Church, he addressed the authorities with a letter entitled ‘Non possumus’ (We cannot go any further), in which he, together with other bishops, refused any further concessions to communists.

This act of defiance led to the arrest of Cardinal Wyszyński in September 1953. He remained in internment until the autumn of 1956.

One of the Cardinal’s major achievements was the nationwide celebration of Poland’s Millennium of Christianity in 1966. His triumph came in 1978, with the election of Karol Wojtyła as Pope John Paul II.

In a message to his countrymen, the newly-elected Pope referred to Cardinal Wyszyński saying: “There would be no Polish Pope on this Chair of St. Peter [...] if it was not for your faith undiminished by prison and suffering, and your heroic hope.”

During the Solidarity revolution in 1980-81, Cardinal Wyszyński appealed to both sides, the communist authorities and the striking workers, for a sense of responsibility.
The funeral of Cardinal Wyszyński in 1981 was attended by some half a million people. Three days before his death, he had a telephone conversation with Pope John Paul II, who was undergoing hospital treatment after the assassination attempt on his life.

Ten years ago, the Polish Parliament declared 2001 the Year of Cardinal Wyszyński, describing him as a great Pole, religious leader and statesman. (mk)

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