Polish regime, church try to defuse tensions

Church and state are combining to try to ensure peace in Poland - despite all the bitter tensions and resentments aroused by martial law and Solidarity's suppression.

For the Roman Catholic hierarchy, this means that workers should cooperate with the government by getting into its new unions and shaping them as well as they can to the principles of Solidarity. At the same time, the church intends to keep the government to the letter as well as the spirit of its legislative pledge of the new unions' independence.

For the government, moderation means urging the workers to cooperate with the new union structure - but toning down the virulence that marked its official propaganda against Solidarity supporters this past summer.

Back in August, workers' efforts to commemorate Solidarity's founding in 1980 were met with threats of drastic suppression of demonstrations and sanctions against the organizers. It was an exercise in overkill that only added fuel to the violence of subsequent protest.

Recently the government has shown more confidence and more caution. Its firm warnings against supporting the planned Nov. 10 protest - marking the second anniversary of Solidarity's registration - were noticeably low-key.

By taking this more moderate line, the authorities have been able to draw some support from the Catholic Church. Both government and church voiced temperate appeals to the workers and the nation as a whole to ignore the Nov. 10 strike calls and avoid bloodshed.

Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski, the head of the Military Council and of Poland's Communist Party, and the Roman Catholic primate, Archbishop Jozef Glemp, expressed their ''common concern'' for the preservation of calm and social order. And both urged ''conscientious work,'' which has been a central theme for authorities' efforts to counteract the activities of underground union groups.

Against this background, Monday's Jaruzelski-Glemp meeting - at which the long-awaited June 1983 date for the Pope's next visit to Poland was announced - was an undoubted bonus for the government.

The church, as much as the authorities, wants to avert any kind of protest that could lead to further bloodshed and further repression. Poles are very much aware that the ultimate consequence could be civil conflict leading to outside intervention. Such a development would have far-reaching repercussions for the church and its own overriding consideration of protecting the unique place in the social fabric and the life of the nation it has secured and preserved for itself in three decades of communist rule.

Within the Communist Party, too, it seems that moderate views, at least for the moment, have determined the line to be taken - despite some hard-line endeavors in the opposite direction. Toughness was reflected in a Politburo declaration that force would be used if need be. But the statement also repeated that the maintenance of public peace and order is the precondition of ending martial law.

The authorities, meanwhile, conducted a campaign to isolate the underground Solidarity ''national committee,'' which was trying to organize a Nov. 10 strike , from mainstream workers. Politburo members toured industrial centers, urging workers to place the nation's economic recovery first and go on working as usual.

In two surprisingly open and long TV sessions Vice-Premier Mieczyslaw Rakowski - the government's unsuccessful negotiator with Solidarity through last year - battled with scores of viewers to defend martial law against their criticisms and, above all, their bluntly spoken bitterness about the union's liquidation.

of 5 stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read 5 of 5 free stories

Only $1 for your first month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.