Pope John Paul II, declaring that religious liberty is one of the "fundamental human rights," directed the bishops of Poland today to be firm in their struggle with Communist authorities to ensure "normal conditions" for the church.
The pope's remarks, made to a gathering of Poland's 70 Roman Catholic bishops, were the sternest expression so far in the pope's visit here of the tension that persists between the party and the church. The pontiff's message was blunt: a united church in Poland must be relentless in insisting on its full and proper role in national life.
"Authentic dialogue [between the Communist Party and the church] must respect the convictions of believers, ensure all the rights of citizens and also the normal conditions for the activity of the church as a religious community to which the vast majority of Poles belong," the pope said.
"We are aware that this dialogue cannot be easy, because it takes place between two concepts of the world which are diametrically opposed. The Polish episcopate must not cease to undertake . . . initiatives which are so important for the present-day church."
The Catholic church is a powerful force in Poland despite the Communist Party rule. About 90 percent of Poland's population of 35 million are Catholics and they have more freedom in Poland than in any other Warsaw Pact country.
Polish Catholics, however, have been unsuccessful in seeking such things as access to the state-controlled news media, an end to censorship of church publications, more freedom to offer religious education to young people and greater opportunities for Catholics to hold high-level jobs.
While the thrust of the speech was not radical for the Polish church, the pope's forthright discussion of religious liberty is bound to put additional pressure on the state for concessions on such contentious issues as church building permits, access to the media and religious education.
The pope's remarks were made in a private meeting on the second day of his stay in Czestochowa. Advance copies were given to several reporters this morning but then were recalled because of the sensitivity of the contents. In mid-afternoon, after the speech had been made, the text was reissued without any changes.
There were reports that some Polish church officials were miffed that the text had been released since the deliberations of the meetings were to be in private.
Two other flaps today marred the generally joyous quality so far to the pope's visit to his native land. The official government press center issued a "communique" denying that would be worshippers had been turned back from Czestochowa by police as some priests had complained.
"In line with previous decision," the statement said, "only access of passenger cars is limited." For those leaving their cars at lots or coming on foot, the statement said, there are "no limitations whatsoever."
At first, church authorities said they would not accept the communique but they later acceded. They contend, however, that while crowds here have been massive - the largest in hundreds of thousands - they could have been larger. They say that the combination of traffic regulations and requirements for tickets have kept some of the faithful away.
Church-state tensions were also visible today in the mixed emotions of thousands of Poles from Silesia who came to Czestochowa for two days of special masses in their honor.
Silesia, in southwest Poland, is the country's industrial heartland with about 30 percent of Polish industry centred there.
The region is populated with hardened coal miners and steelworkers who have at times demonstrated against government actions that displeased them. Religious sentiment runs high in the area, where one of Poland's holy shrine, Piekary Slaskie, is located.
It is a shrine that the pope, in his previous role as archbishop of Krakow, used to visit every year. But government authorities turned down a request by the Polish bishops and the Vatican to allow the pope to return to the Silesian shrine as pontiff.
The decision reflected a gamble by Communist authorities that the joy of seeing the pope by those who made it here will balance the anger of those who couldn't come and the risk of potentially emotional papal visit to an area of crucial economic importance to the government.
Today, however, it seemed clear that many people were angry. "We are absolutely shocked," said a miner from Upper Silesia who said he spoke for his two companions as well, "and we retired so we can speak to you freely. It was his wish to come. He was a worker and people are terribly disappointed."
The miners claimed there was "agitation" by authorities to keep the pope from coming to the region and that they had heard about papers being circulated opposing the visit and workers being asked to sign them. They told of mass meetings of people who wanted to come being disrupted and disturbed by helicopters flown overhead.
Interviews with other families from the region, painted similar pictures of widespread disappointment. They said that workers who happened to have the right days off could get here but that it was impossible for anybody else to arrange time off.
The Piekary shrine is just a few miles from Katowice, the center of Polish industry, and one reason the government rejected the pope's visit is apparently because they would either have to virtually shut down industry for a day or two to let the workers see the pope or risk demonstrations. Another reason is said to be the general unwillingness of the government to enhance the power of the church in that key region.
The region around Katowice is where Communist Party chief Edward Gierek was born, became local party leader and has his political base. So an incident there could have been doubly embarrassing.
Although the region is stable, in part because the workers there are among the country's best paid, it can be volatile. Last fall, work slowdowns developed because of unhappiness over meat shortages and the government promptly restocked local shelves to avoid further problems.
Just a few weeks ago, residents of Tychy, also near Katowice, demonstrated peacefully all day after authorities removed a cross from the town center. It was put back that night.
In all, the pope had four major engagements today - the closed bishops' conference, the Silesian mass, a morning mass for thousands of nuns and an evening prayer at the Jasna Gora Monastery, site of the revered Black Madonna icon.
He will spend one more day here before flying to Krakow, from which he will travel Thursday to his home town, Wadowice, and the site of the former Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz. CAPTION: Picture, Pope John Paul, at Jasna Gora, talks with three former prisoners of a Nazi camp. AP