Unjust accusations towards the Property Commission
The two-day 353rd plenary session of the Polish Bishops’ Conference ended in Warsaw on 29 September 2010. The new Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Celestino Migliore participated in the meeting for the first time. The bishops issued a communiqué in which they reminded the words of his homily during the Mass celebrated on 28 September, with the participation of the Polish bishops, inaugurating his ministry in Poland. Archbishop Migliore stressed that the task of the Church was to bring Christ to the world and not to be attractive for the world. During the Mass the bishops prayed for the victims of the tragic accident near Berlin.
In the communiqué the bishops presented the most important subjects of their meeting. These were: the 20th anniversary of the re-opening of Caritas Polska after the communist period. Caritas has offices in all dioceses and as the bishops say it tries to be ‘voice of the poor’, realising the idea of Christian mercy in the whole society and every parish. The bishops thanked all those who showed mercy for those in need, giving the most wonderful content to the word ‘caritas’ – merciful love. The Polish Bishops’ Conference received with joy the decision of the Parliament concerning the restoration of the liturgical feast of Epiphany, popularly known as the Feast of the Three Kings, as a holiday in Poland.
The bishops expressed their critical opinions about the idea of proclaiming Jesus the King of Poland, warning against reducing Jesus’ reign to one single act of enthronement that would solve all problems. At the same time they paid attention to the need of deepening faith in Jesus Christ as the King of the Universe and the Lord of history.
The bishops mentioned the 8th Congress of Polish Theologians that was held in Poznan. During the meeting the chairman of the Commission for the Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacrament Bishop Stefan Cichy presented the proposal of the revised third edition of the Missal and the texts of the Paschal Triduum.
During the plenary session the bishops also discussed the project of the social document of the Episcopate and the idea of an academic pilgrimage to the Holy Land, presented by Bishop Marek Jedraszewski, the delegate for students’ pastoral work and a member of the Youth Ministry Council.
Moreover, the bishops wrote about the unjust criticism undermining the principle of justice and confidence to the Church concerning her activities to regain the property confiscated in the 1950s. ‘Realising the mission of evangelisation the Church has always used her properties for pastoral and educational-charity purpose.’ During the press conference concluding the 353rd plenary session of the Bishops’ Conference, Archbishop Jozef Michalik, the President of the Polish Bishops’ Conference, stressed that the Church had nothing to do with Marek P. who had been accused of corruption. He was not a proxy of the Church – as the media say – but of only some Church’s institutions. But even if in the cases he served as a proxy the valuation of the claimed properties was according to the binding law. ‘The Church has no interest to defend dishonest ways; we are far from that’, Archbishop Michalik stressed, adding that if there were some misuses of funds they should be condemned. He also reminded that the Property Commission was to work for only half a year but because of the obstruction of various state entities it had worked for several years. During the meeting with the journalists Bishop Stanislaw Budzik said that the Church needed material means for her evangelisation, charity and educational activities and these means had always been ‘salt in the eye’ of the totalitarian systems. ‘Communism joined these traditions’, he said, adding that in democratic countries the law of property had always been respected and the activities of non-governmental institutions, including the social activities of the Church, were very much appreciated and brought good effects for these societies. ‘But we are constantly struggling with the heritage of totalitarianism because in Poland there is no re-privatisation, the unjust bills that robbed the Church and other institutions as well as individuals are still binding’, the Secretary General of the Polish Bishops’ Conference regretted. He explained that the adjusting actions of the Property Commission concerned only these properties that the Church lost against the communist law.
Bishop Budzik ensured that the Church ‘experiences moral losses because of the Property Commission’ and consequently, the Church was ready to reach a compromise in the unsolved issues. They concern mainly religious congregations that used to have charity and educations works. ‘A long time ago we suggested to complete these words as soon as possible and if the government has the same intention we will accept it with satisfaction’, he said, noticing that even the law concerning the relations between the State and the Church issued in 1989, which is the basis of the works of the Commission, provided such a quick completion of its works.
(Editorial board, Bulletin of the Polish Bishops’ Conference, Catholic Information Agency)