June 24 1984 Finding Justice and the Voice in the Desert


 

[opening remarks]

In the month dedicated to the Sacred Heart, the year of the anniversary of papal visits to our country, we gather, for 30 months now, as always, on the last Sunday at the high Mass for Our Nation for and those who suffer for her the most. We will enclose in our prayers all of our nations’ difficult and still painful matters. We want to ask Christ for help to realize in our daily lives all the advice of the Holy Father from His second pilgrimage to our land. We want to ask that all those who have been unjustly deprived of freedom because of their beliefs and because of their great concerns for the fortunes of our country, be set free. We want to ask for a clarification of truth and a victory for justice in the case of Grzesiu Przemyk. We want to ask that the times of disregard for the Nation finally end and be replaced by happy reconstruction in harmony, love, justice, truth and regard for the dignity of man.

Aware of our human imperfections let us ask God for forgiveness for all our sins and omissions, so we can worthily and fruitfully celebrate this Mass.Today's liturgy shows us the person of John the Baptist of whom, even the prophet Isaiah said that “he is the voice in the desert”

Holy Mass for the Fatherland on June 24 1984 was celebrated by Fr. Jerzy Popieluszko who delivered the sermon.

[homily]

Today’s liturgy shows us the person of John the Baptist of whom, even the prophet Isaiah said that “he is the voice in the desert” (Is 40, 3). The man who prepared human hearts for meeting the one who was to come after him, Jesus Christ. He appears as a brave and just man who had the courage to point out evil and injustice even to the King who took his brother’s wife. John the Baptist, as a brave and just person can be the patron and the example to all who today want to build their lives based on justice, truth and love.

A just man is he who is guided by love and truth. Because the more love and truth is in a man, the more justice. Justice must go hand in hand with love because without love one cannot be completely just. Where there is no love, no good- ness, then they are replaced by hate and force. And being guided by hate and force, you cannot talk about justice. This is why injustice is so painfully felt and seen in countries where governing is not based on love, but on force and enslavement.

The condition for freedom of conscience, for freedom in family, in the nation and in the world, is justice based on love. All of us, without exception, want peace. But peace can- not be had solely by verbal declarations, solely by words, however sincere words, not to speak of demagogues. There- fore for peace and contentment in a nation, for creating conditions for joyful and fruitful reconstruction of a country, one must first abolish everything which gives the sensation of social injustice. There are too many damages, personal and social, arising from the fact that justice is not accompanied by love, that there are many shortcomings and frequently that, frankly, injustice governs.

Let us look at some of those obvious and shocking displays of injustice. One of the most important things for a Christian is realizing that God is the source of justice. It is therefore difficult to talk about justice where there is no room for God and His commandments. Justice demands that one be conscious of injustice, and the harm it has done to our Nation, indisputably a Christian nation, when atheist policies are funded by money, much of which comes from the earnings of Christians.

Justice forbids the destruction, in children’s and young people’s souls, of the Christian values which were given to them by their parents in the cradle. Values which frequently tested through the thousand years of our history passed with the highest grades. Everyone, without exception, must call for and exercise justice, because just as Plato said: “Bad times are those when justice fills its mouth with water”1.

Justice with regard to oneself demands that one honestly sorts out through one’s experience and one’s brain the flood of the propaganda machine.

Justice demands that one is always governed by good will and love towards man who is created in God’s image, and thanks to that, is of greatest value after God.

Therefore also in the execution of justice, love for man without any other considerations, must be in first place. Justice forbids limiting freedom through a flood of ever new convenient for the ruling powers laws. Here it is worth reminding all who declare that they do this in the spirit of humanism, that they are responsible for the wellbeing of the citizens, as stated by a scholar: “The greater the restrictions on social freedom, the less humanistic the regime”. It is the justice and the right to truth that orders us from here, and not for the first time, to demand restrictions on the free hand of censorship which gives the future generations a bad report about our times and today deprives people of a chance to know the truth more fully. It is in the name of justice, not forgetting that which was at times immature and spontaneous and perhaps too loud in “Solidarity” (lack of experience and not bad will), that we must mature and emphasize that great achievement which “Solidarity” had accomplished in the reformation of the consciousness of Poles. “This word – said Holy Father of «Solidarity» on January 1, 1982 – speaks of a great effort made by working people in my country in order to ensure the true dignity of the working man”.2

It is an injustice to talk the public opinion into believing that “Solidarity” was simply promoting strikes and because of the strikes the country is in the state of crisis. In his letter to the House of Commons, the Primate of Poland said: “One has to confirm that, for quite some time, labor organizations, and first and foremost the greatest of them «Solidarity» – are fighting against spontaneous strike actions”3. And Bishop Majdanski said to the workers: “It is worth looking at other countries where there were strikes for decades, and yet there is an abundance of everything. The reason for the crisis does not lie here”4.

Justice requires pertinent rights for everyone. So also, the right to work in one’s trade or carrier and the impossibility of being deprived of one’s employment because of one’s beliefs.

The Primate of Poland spoke about it on January 2, 1982 in these words:

There is one issue which lies heavily on Church’s heart. It is the issue of termination the employment of persons who do not want to resign from work for refusing to terminate their membership in the labor union “Solidarity”. And we stand against this injustice as it is an insult against human rights.5

That was the answer of the Primate to the unjust rule which was used on the order of the Council of Ministers by General Michal Janiszewski 6 on December 17, 1981. This problem has not been resolved as of today.

Justice requires that working people are able to form respective unions.

In the encyclical Laborem exercens Holy Father John Paul II said that:

Labor unions (…) should not be subordinate to the decisions of political parties or have close connections with them. Since in those situations they easily lose the connection with its proper purpose, which is assuring the security of the legitimate rights of worker within the framework of the common good of the country, otherwise they become tools for other purposes…7

How this problem looks in our country the working people can best decide. In the name of justice young people should have the right to gather in organizations which cor- respond to their aspirations and opinions.

Justice requires respect for the will of the majority in the elections of rectors at higher education establishments and not dismissing from their positions people, wise and honorable people, because they have the courage to express their viewpoints and they stand in defense of the academic youth.

Justice gives us the right that, from this place, from here, for two years, comes an ardent prayer of tortured hearts. It gives us the right and duty to call for the releasing of all those imprisoned for their beliefs, for the repair of all the wrongs done to them, especially moral wrongs, for the unconditional release of those who are spending their thirty-first month under arrest without a process or sentence.

The staff of the Department of Justice must remember that man is more important than their paragraphs. That in real life the „paragraphs” and legal directives are often utilized to cheat and even to torture.

Hence the great injustice here lies in the depriving people of doing their jobs well, once they realize the situation and try to be honest in being guided by their conscience rather than the instructions from their superiors.

I realize that these are only some problems resulting from the lack of justice in community life. Each one of us present here could talk long and much on this subject. Today we will stop with what I have said.

Let us awake the reflection in our own hearts, let us con- front it with our conscience to see to what extent each one of us is ready to claim that justice. To what an extent each one of us is a creator of justice. Starting with himself, his family his environment. Because often our disinterest inspires injustice.

Only remembering the words of Christ that our justice should be greater than that of the learned people, the Pharisees (Mt 5,20), we will be able to take to heart the words of our blessing “Blessed are they who thirst for justice, they will be filled” (Mt 5, 6).

Amen.

[closing remarks]

My dear people, yet another request, as I have been officially accused that because the Mass for Our Country, my sermons, choice of texts and hymns, I spread social unrest and increase hate in the listeners. Should that be the case, our prayers would miss their purpose. I should be grateful if those pres- ent here, who come every month from Warsaw or other parts of Poland, would say something on this subject and put it in writing. Letters can be mailed – perhaps some of them will come through – or you may bring them to Sacristy or to the office.

And one more request to all those who, especially lately, threaten me in their letters, and I quote: “a bullet in the head”, “throat cut”, “hanging on a cross”, that whoever is capable of these threats has the courage to sign his letter rather than cowardly hide under an anonym or an imaginary address.

I ask for your prayers on Tuesday at 9.30. I have received the sixteenth notice for a hearing in Mostowski Palace. I was ill twice, once I was on a delegation, so now I am going for the thirteenth time. It will help me a lot to know that someone thinks about me at that time.

Next Mass for Our Country, on the last Sunday of July. Let us not lose hope that, perhaps, it will be in a happier atmosphere, a happier reality.

Let us accept God’s blessing for the time of strengthening hope within ourselves, our families, our Nation.

1 Unfortunately reference to these exact words was not found in Plato’s works.

2 Special audience of leaders of the Federation on Labor Unions, “L’OR” 1/1982.

3 Letter of Archbishop Jozef Glemp, Primate of Poland, Leader of the Episcopate of Poland Conference to the Polish House of Commons PRL on 12/6/1981, see: John Paul II, Primate and Episcopate on martial law, p. 38.

4 Sermon by bishop Kazimierz Majdanski on the anniversary of end of worker strike delivered on 8/30/1981 in St. Jacob Cathedral in Szczecin. Also reference above, p. 17.

5 Primate of Poland on Christmas Eve with the combatants 1/2/1982. Also reference above, p. 82.

6 Refers to a report of gen.Michal Janiszewski proposing an introduction of conversations in the administrative offices of the government with members of NSZZ “Solidarnosc” for the purpose of explaining to the employees that one cannot reconcile working in a government office and belonging to a suspended union. Employees should “voluntarily” resign from union membership, otherwise they would be immediately dismissed. As a result, many employees lost their jobs.

The Primate of Poland , Cardinal Josef Glemp, in his letter to gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski protested against this ruling indicating its injustice, offence to the dignity of man and his rights. See: John Paul II, Primate and the Episcopate on martial law, p. 86-88.

7 John Paul II, Laborem exercens, #20.