Poland remembers Solidarity priest killed by communists
PR dla Zagranicy
A string of commemorative events was due to be held on Friday as Poles remembered Jerzy Popiełuszko, a Catholic priest who was killed by communist secret police in the 1980s.
President Andrzej Duda speaks during a religious service commemorating the Blessed Father Jerzy Popiełuszko in the the north-central city of Włocławek on Thursday. Photo: PAP/Paweł Skraba
October 19 marks 34 years since Popiełuszko, a staunch supporter of Poland’s Solidarity freedom movement, was brutally murdered at the age of 37.
On the eve of the anniversary, Poland’s President Andrzej Duda said that Popiełuszko’s death more than three decades ago was a key moment on his country’s road to freedom from communist oppression.
The president said that the priest’s murder epitomised the evil of the communist system, which Poland eventually overcame in 1989.
“They killed an innocent priest, an innocent man who was protected by nothing but a rosary and a cross," Duda said in the north-central city of Włocławek on Thursday evening.
Popiełuszko strongly supported Poland’s Solidarity trade union in the 1980s, serving as chaplain to workers at a Warsaw steel mill in 1980 and 1981.
Jerzy Popiełuszko (1947-1984). Photo: [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
During martial law, he celebrated monthly "Masses for the Homeland" that attracted tens of thousands of people.
In his homilies, he condemned violations of human rights and called for freedom and dignity of working people.
On October 19, 1984, he was abducted, tortured and murdered by communist secret police officers. He has since been recognised as a martyr by the Roman Catholic Church and was beatified on June 6, 2010.
Popiełuszko’s grave in Warsaw has drawn millions of pilgrims from Poland and beyond.