'Niedziela' - Deo et Patriae
Fr Ireneusz Skubis
'Time of silence and time of speaking' is the title of the commemorative book, which was published on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of 'Niedziela' in 2001. Today we are experiencing the 80th anniversary of our weekly. This paper had difficult moments of silence in its history. It was the period of five-year Nazi occupation and 28 years of suspension by the communist authorities. One of the bishops called that time of silence an extremely important time of testimony. It really was a testimony. The occupant did not manage to make us collaborate and we also opposed the communist regime. During the whole period of suspension we made attempts to publish the weekly. The attempts were made by the Czestochowa Curia, bishops and priests as well as faithful readers from all over Poland. They remembered 'Niedziela' wholeheartedly and collected signatures for a petition demanding its re-establishment. One should speak about this difficult period, which was a test of readers' faithfulness to this title because it was a very important period in the eighty years of 'Niedziela'; the period brought about the re-establishment of the periodical.
The pre-war 'Niedziela' was only a weekly of the Czestochowa diocese. Naturally, it had its pastoral and social tasks, being a prolongation of the bishops' and priests' activities. It was characterized by cordiality in pastoral counselling, Christian joy and adherence to the Church, and at the same time it looked at the reality of that time objectively.
The post-war paper, which was already national, was published under the pressure of the communist authorities. One could see on the pages of 'Niedziela' that there were harder times for freedom of speech and religion although the constitutional regulations did not confirm that. Actually, we were not completely condemned to silence but were forbidden to tell the truth; the censors threw out the articles they did not like and the circulation was limited. In 1953 the paper ceased to be published.
And then there was the period of the present editorial board of 'Niedziela' - the time of 25 years of our work. For we are celebrating another important anniversary: 25 years of functioning of 'Niedziela' after its being re-established in 1981. There were the years of 'Solidarity', which brought a breath of freedom, and 'Niedziela' was again on the press market. Polish readers cordially welcomed the weekly. We were allowed to print 100,000 copies but the very subscription was 76,000. In those years it was a significant publishing success. The contemporary authorities let us publish 8 pages of each issue, so we were entering the Polish market as a poor paper, without bigger graphic possibilities, but we had many readers because we registered the life of the Church of those days. The first issues of 1981 included the information about the death of Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski and the assassination attempt on the life of the Holy Father John Paul II. 'Niedziela' bore testimony to those events.
In spite of the strenuous activity of the censorship, which existed till 1989 and made our work difficult, we were faithful to Poland and to the truth, and we registered the censors' interference meticulously. The Office for the Denominational Affairs in Warsaw knew well that the censor in Opole had difficult times talking to the editor-in-chief of 'Niedziela'. We were consistent, faithful to our ideals and we tried to overcome the censors' tenacity by our endurance and patience. 'Niedziela' of those times was a witness of our fight for every sentence and even every word.
And the year 1989 came - free election in Poland. The censorship was abolished. We breathed anew, we gathered momentum and since then we have been able to speak in a full voice. We have always tried to do our best to inform our readers and provide formation for them. John Paul II also saw that and he implied that he knew about us, observed our work, accepted and blessed it. Those were the moments of our greatest joy.
This 'time of speaking' has lasted until today. Our aim has always been to present the message of the Church, to be faithful to our Homeland, Polish culture and history as well as to be people's friends in their daily joys and sorrows. We are trying to create an ordinary, clear and transparent paper. And we will remain at our post, serving Deo et Patriae - For God and Homeland. We will work with competence, zeal, great joy and the hope that what we do praises God and helps man.