Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski has sidestepped once again a showdown between the moderates and hard-liners in Poland's Communist Party. The meeting of the party's Central Committee this week contented itself instead with a warning to extremes in the party and to obstreperous elements in the Roman Catholic Church.
The report delivered by General Jaruzelski on behalf of the Politburo was largely mild and conciliatory in tone, touching on many areas the Soviets have consistently viewed with disfavor.
Outspoken clerics were warned that opposition from the pulpit would not be disregarded. But Jaruzelski was positive about Pope John Paul II's pending visit and expressed confidence in cooperation with the church in many social and moral areas.
A signal that firmer controls were to be imposed on the printed news media was the only notable concession to recent Soviet criticisms of Poland's conduct of its own affairs.
The report was conciliatory toward private farmers and other social groups whose support - or at least goodwill - Jaruzelski and the moderates around him perceive as essential to the state's recovery program.
The report castigated divisions and ''fractional activity'' upsetting party unity. This admonition seemed aimed primarily at the Soviet-inclined hard-liners , who have recently become quite active.
Any clear-cut definitions - or the oft-rumored ''showdown'' - has been left for a later day. Such an ideological stocktaking has been expected ever since martial law was eased six months ago.
There seem to be two reasons for this latest delay:
* The visit of Pope John Paul II, now only two weeks away. The Pope's visit will have considerable influence on the prospects for social harmony in Poland.
The Politburo report referred to the pending visit as ''a momentous occasion.'' Although the phrase was used in the context of international tensions and the escalating arms race, the authorities obviously attach great weight to the Pope's potential influence for social peace within Poland.
Assuming the visit proceeds in a manner that both church and state can regard as ''positive,'' the party should continue to react calmly to Soviet concern about the visit and about other areas of Polish policy that Moscow still distrusts.
* The meeting of the Soviet Central Committee scheduled for this month. It will be the first plenary session since Yuri Andropov took office last November.
Mr. Andropov is seen as having formidable problems within the Soviet leadership on ideological as well as economic and social questions. How he meets them and how he consolidates his position will be significant for all East Europeans, but especially for Poles.
Meantime, the Polish Politburo report restated policy General Jaruzelski has been spelling out despite the reservations surfacing in Moscow.
Predictably, it asserted the party had regained the initiative in Poland's political life. It said the party is relatively strong compared to a year ago, with a more ''clear-cut'' sense of direction and a membership at least holding steady.
The report attempted to woo support among the peasant farmers as a ''second social force.'' It commended the new patriotic front organization as a ''durable platform'' for social dialogue. And it committed the party itself to ''political and legal solutions,'' not (by implication) the old administrative methods.