Baptists in Poland and throughout Europe generally have welcomed election of Cardinal Karol Wojtyla of Krakow as Pope John Paul II, according to European Baptist Press Service.
Dr. Gerhard Class, secretary-treasurer of the European Baptist Federation, said: "We rejoice in the fact that the new pope comes from a socialist country and knows the situation of the local congregatlon. He will be able to help the Church of Christ to accomplish more in such countries."
The Rev. Sdzislaw Pawlik, general secretary of the Polish Ecumenical Council and vice president of the Baptist Union in Warsaw, said "it was for us a surprise, but a nice surprise.
"We are all very glad, for this is not only a special recognition for the Roman Catholic Church in Poland, but also for all of Poland," he said,noting that the ecumenical council has sent a letter of congratulations to the Polish Catholic Episcopate.
The baptist Union sent a letter of congratulations to the pope in Rome.
Pawlik said Baptist-Catholic relations have improved steadily since World War II, not in mete formality but in a real working coopertion.
"The best example of this was the recent campaign by Baptist evangelist Billy Graham, in which all churches cooperated," said Pawlik, who served as the evangelist's official interpreter.
"One of the Catholic bishops simply told us "our churches are are open you,'" Pawlik recalled.