Polish archbishop says Cardinal Glemp headed church during hard times

WARSAW, Poland - Polish Cardinal Jozef Glemp took over as head of the Polish church during "hard and uncertain" times, Archbishop Jozef Kowalczyk of Gniezno told hundreds of people at the cardinal's funeral.

"His life was not easy and his service (was) demanding," Archbishop Kowalczyk said during the homily at the Jan. 28 Mass in St. John's Cathedral. "He had to measure up to the evil of martial law, lead the church through a difficult time of systemic transformation and then, at the cost of misunderstanding and rejection, courageously call good and bad by their names."

The archbishop said that when Cardinal Glemp became archbishop of Warsaw in July 1981, Poland was strike-bound and the Polish pope, Blessed John Paul II, had narrowly survived assassination.

He said Cardinal Glemp turned out to be "full of faith and hope, calm and discernment."

Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski praised the cardinal for his later role in "building a free and democratic Poland" and said his own family had benefited from the cardinal's aid committee for imprisoned opposition members.

"He was a good son of the homeland and profound patriot, able to act in the name not only of patriotic emotions, but also of a rational view of each situation, quietly evaluating the interests of state and nation," Komorowski said in a funeral oration.

"Today, from a now-distant perspective, we (see) how much his moderation and calm courage helped Poland in hard times," he said.

Cardinal Glemp, 83, who was bishops' conference president for 23 years, died of lung cancer in a Warsaw hospital Jan. 23. His death was followed by three days of national mourning.

In a Jan. 24 telegram, Pope Benedict XVI said he had personally appreciated the cardinal's "sincere goodness, his simplicity, his openness and his dedication to the cause of the church in Poland and in the world."

The pope's telegram and messages from European cardinals were read during the Mass.

Cardinal Kazimierz Nycz of Warsaw read remarks from the late cardinal in which Cardinal Glemp apologized for acts of "inconsiderate criticism, neglect and weakness" and thanked Blessed John Paul for assisting his spiritual formation.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 1970