restricted access Document No. 3: Cardinal Wyszyński’s Sermon at Jasna Góra Following the Outbreak of Strikes, with Reactions, August 26–28, 1980
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51 Document No. 3: Cardinal Wyszyński’s Sermon at Jasna Góra Following the Outbreak of Strikes, with Reactions August 26–28, 1980 In an important speech on August 26, Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński, the highly influential primate of Poland, acknowledged the workers’ general discontent but did not support strikes as an appropriate course of action. Wyszyński, along with many of his generation, feared that unrest could develop into a broader uprising along the lines of the Warsaw insurrection of 1944 or the crises of 1956 and 1970, which might provoke violent suppression by the authorities. This kind of statement bolstered the Church’s standing among the party leadership as a restraining force, and exerted significant influence with moderates such as Wałęsa. But it also shocked some protestors who hoped for a much more forceful statement of support from Church leaders . Following the sermon are two examples of reactions to Wyszyński’s remarks. The first is from Father Hilary Jastak, a popular priest with close ties to the strikers. The second records a meeting Wyszyński held with shipyard workers from Gdynia who desperately sought clarification about his views after his sermon was presented in distorted form in the Polish media. Excerpts of Sermon by Cardinal Stephan Wyszyński A short while ago, the father general read a letter sent by the Holy Father, John Paul II, on the occasion of today’s festivities. Obviously, the Holy Father is very concerned that we should be aware of his presence with us and of his prayers among us. This is why I also received in Warsaw a special and personal handwritten letter from the Holy Father in which he refers to the holiest mother who has been given for the defense of our nation. […] We have our historic experience that she is there for the protection of the Polish nation. This is the experience of centuries. This is the special incentive for us, the Poles, when working and toiling; we know that she is there for our defense. But people who are being guided by this spirit also know that it is at the same time an incentive for our actions, for our daily work, the daily toil—that she is there to help. This is why, children of God, we know that Jasna Góra is, in the opinion of the nation and in our history, a kind of fortress, a kind of watchtower, a kind of fortified castle, where we are attaining calm, attaining stability, where we come down, where we begin to reflect soberly from the viewpoint of our duties , tasks, and maybe also rights. And thus, when everybody’s eyes are turned toward Jasna Góra, it is generally known that it is impossible to raise one’s hand against Jasna Góra. This is a mystery of the ages, some special grave of divine providence which has been 52 in operation here for six centuries. But when we face this historical experience, when we know that when all is said and done it is so, that even when all the lights seem to have gone out for our nation, in the words of the great enemy and invader who attacked both the nation and the Church in Poland many years ago, then she remains—the Black Madonna of Jasna Góra. However, let us remember that an effective defense of the people through the Holy Mother also requires efforts on our part.4 The defense which we expect on many occasions, and at the last moment, cannot mean passively waiting for help from heaven. In order to deserve the protection of the Holy Virgin it is necessary to fulfill our duties in everyday living, duties which rest on everybody’s shoulders, duties which rest on our families, on every one of our families, duties which rest on our public life, on our professional life, and on our working life. The better we perform these duties, everyday duties, the more, my beloved children, we can rest assured that help will come. What is more, the better and the more consciously we perform our everyday duties, with a sense of our responsibility for the nation, the more justified and the better grounded are our rights, and then in the name of these rights we can also make demands. Otherwise it is impossible. […] I emphasize and repeat, and I will go on repeating this during these joint reflections , that with this [sense of responsibility] is...