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By BosNewsLife News Center in Budapest with reporting by BosNewsLife’s Stefan J. Bos
WARSAW/BUDAPEST (BosNewsLife)– Poland’s Catholic Church is mourning Cardinal Jozef Glemp who has died at the age of 83 after an often turbulent life in which he supported the country’s peaceful struggle against communism.
The Archbishop of Warsaw said Cardinal Glemp passed away after losing his battle against lung cancer.
In a statement, Archbishop Kazimierz Nycz called for prayers for a man known as “a leader in a difficult time” through which he led the country’s influential Catholic Church “with prudence and wisdom.”
Jozef Glemp was appointed Primate of Poland in 1981, the year martial law was declared by Communist authorities.
He was sometimes criticized for his conciliatory tactics, but his supporters say they helped the Poles save lives and go mostly peacefully through 18 months of harsh military rule imposed in December 1981.
SPIRITUAL, MATERIAL SUPPORT
Under his guidance, the Catholic Church offered spiritual and material support to activists of Solidarity, the East Block’s first independent trade union. He supported Solidarity leader, Lech Walesa, who won the 1983 Nobel Peace Prize for advocacy of freedom.
His calm disarmed the bitterness and anger that rose in Poland after the secret security abducted and murdered a pro-Solidarity priest, Jerzy Popieluszko, in 1983. “Of course he was a martyr. It was a premeditated action, a very cruel one,” Cardinal Glemp once recalled.
Cardinal Glemp was a close friend of Pope John Paul II and helped facilitate historic visits to the pontiff’s native Poland, even under Communism.
In an interview the church leader said that the visit of Pope John Paul II came amid “a quest for social changes” and “was the effect of the process of Liberation.”
MORE FREEDOM PROCESS
He said the pontiff “greatly helped to speed up this process” of more freedom.
“Him calling out on Victory Square to send the Spirit, touched many people at the time. They started to believe in their own strength reinforced by the power of the Holy spirit,” the cardinal said.
“And more interesting, it can’t be forgotten that 20 years later at the same place he came back and said: ‘It is here that I asked for changes, and today these changes have happened’.”
Cardinal Glemp led the Church in Poland till 2009.
Church leaders said he would be remembered as someone who understood that the Church in Poland is always “associated with the nation.”
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