Polish authorities worried by Pope's strong words -- especially on youth
The authorities here are displaying growing unease as Pope John Paul II speaks out on the causes of Poland's current tensions. The Pope's pronouncements, richly larded with the saints and heroes of a thousand years of Polish history, articulate a clear political line.Skip to next paragraph
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The communist regime's first response was a complaint about the failure of the church marshals (entrusted with the job of controlling the crowds thronging the visiting pontiff's route) to forestall any show of political feeling. It included a reminder to the church about the agreement with the government on that point.
Another acrimonious note was sounded June 21 when Deputy Prime Minister Mieczyslaw Rakowski angrily rejected the Pope's expressions of concern over the frustrations facing Polish youth.
The papal comments on youth seem to have ruffled official feelings more than anything else in the Pope's increasingly ''political'' remarks on the repressive aspects of martial law and his blunt insistence that social peace will not be restored without genuine dialogue between government and people.
(Reuter reports that Lech Walesa, leader of the banned free trade union Solidarity, has been given three days off from work at Gdansk's Lenin Shipyard to meet with Pope John Paul II in Krakow on Thursday, according to Walesa's wife.)
In a meeting with young Poles at Jasna Gora the Pontiff spoke of his awareness of ''your sufferings, your difficult youth, your sense of injustice and humiliation, the lack of prospects for the future. . . .''
In a country where two-thirds of the people were born after the World War II and more than half of them are under 30, coping with dissatisfied youth has to be rated as the authorities' most intractable problem after the economy.
One of the most keenly felt of all restrictions among young educated Poles is the denial of passports and the freedom to travel. A new passport law is due this year, but indications of its nature so far suggest that it is unlikely to match the clearcut ''right to a passport'' featured in a bill tabled a few months before martial law and then abandoned.
''I want only to go abroad to see a bit of the world relevant to my studies, '' a graduate says. ''But I cannot get a passport.''
The Pope and his remarks were not specifically mentioned by Deputy Prime MinisterRakowski in the long interview with him published here yesterday by the official news agency. But the thrust throughout the interview was a hard-hitting reply, particularly to the Pope's open sympathy with the younger generation.
Mr. Rakowski, in effect, accused the Pope of dwelling too much on history. He charged the Pope with making little or no reference to the advantages opened up to youth after the last war and the advent of communist rule compared with the state of affairs before it.
''There are educators,'' he said in one pointed reference, ''who treat history in an uncritical manner. They attempt to fascinate youth with the heroic past, carefully avoiding criticism of what was bad in it.
Mr. Rakowski, who heads the government's Council of Youth, admitted deficiencies and errors in the provisions for youth by earlier Polish communist administrations. But he claimed that a year-old program - adopted by Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski's military regime - to give youth a better start in life is beginning to show results.