President Duda commemorates murdered ‘Solidarity’ chaplain

On the eve of the 35th anniversary of the tragic death of Father Jerzy Popiełuszko, a symbol of Polish peaceful resistance to the Communist regime, President Andrzej Duda commemorated him by laying a wreath by his grave in front of Stanisław Kostka Church in Warsaw.

“He pursued his pastoral path, leading the workers, warming hearts and building faith in God primarily, but also in the final victory of goodness, in Poland regaining freedom. He supported the working class, the people of labour, the Solidarity trade union, then shattered yet still fighting from the underground. For that attitude, he was murdered on October 19, 1984,” the President said.

He recalled that in memory of the martyr’s death of Father Popiełuszko, the National Day of Remembrance for Steadfast Clergy, falling on October 19, was established last year.

“This is the day dedicated to all those clergymen, who, in an indomitable struggle for the faith, for Poland, fought by word and prayer and were murdered by the communists,” Andrzej Duda said.

Recalling the words of Pope John Paul II, spoken after the death of priest Popiełuszko: “So that good was born out of this death,'' President Duda stated that this “good” won against the evil.

“1989 came, and so did a free Poland. And now, 30 years later, we have a free, independent, sovereign Poland that we are able to build, support,” he said.

Jerzy Aleksander Popiełuszko was born in 1947. From 1980, he was close to the workers and supported the Solidarity movement. In 1981, Jerzy Popiełuszko visited the workers protesting in the Warsaw Steelworks. Thereafter he became the chaplain of ‘Solidarity’ and was associated with opposition to the Communist regime.

On the evening of October 19, Popiełuszko was kidnapped by agents of the secret service of the communist ministry of the interior. The priest was then beaten, tied up, and thrown into the car’s boot. With a sack of stones bound to his feet, he was dropped into the Vistula river from the dam in the town of Włocławek.

His body was found on October 30 and the news of his death caused a powerful wave of indignation in the country. His body was tortured to the extent that he could only be formally identified by his distinguishing features.

His Warsaw funeral on November 3, was attended by more than 250,000 people, including the Solidarity leader Lech Wałęsa. His resting place is near Saint Stanislaus Kostka Church in Warsaw, where he used to celebrate his Masses for the Homeland.