Poland's Roman Catholic hierarchy tonight called on the Communist Party and Solidarity, the independent trade union federation, to resume negotiations to resolve what it called an "economic and moral crisis."
The statement by the Polish episcopate, issued on the first anniversary of the outbreak of the strikes in Gdansk, which led to the formation of Solidarity, said that "joint responsibility for the fate of the fatherland is demanded by all."
"We are making a burning appeal to all to work seriously, to abandon emotional outbursts and to take up the tasks that have an overwhelming importance for the whole nation," the bishops said.
The statement and the workers' celebration of the strike anniversary came as Poland's two top officials, Communist Party leader Stanislaw Kania and Premier Wojciech Jaruzelski, flew to the Soviet Union for talks with Soviet President Leonid Brezhnev.
Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko met the Polish leaders when they landed near Brezhnev's Black Sea retreat at Simferopol for what Tass, the official Soviet news agency, called a "friendly working visit," The Associated Press reported. The talks are the first between Brezhnev and Kania since March, when Kania went to Moscow to discuss the Polish crisis.
The Polish church leaders, referring to increased food shortages in Poland during the last few weeks and suffering by "families and individuals," called on Poles to make sacrifices. Their statement added, "We believe that the society is prepared for these sacrifices if the people are assured that they will not be in vain."
It was the first major pronouncement by the hierarchy since the appointment of Archbishop Jozef Glemp as the new primate of Poland. The archbishop met with Kania earlier this week. Kania had requested the meeting, presumably to seek church mediation following the collapse of government-union negotiations last week.
In its statement, the church appeared to take a middle ground in an effort to create conditions for a compromise.
Its appeal for restraint and social peace was coupled with one addressed to the union. Solidarity not only has the obligation to defend workers' rights but also must help "take the country out of the crisis," the bishops said.
"The society has great hopes in the new independent trade union movement and these hopes must not be betrayed," they said.
Addressing itself to communist authorities, the statement voiced the hope that the government would move on with constructive economic reforms and that these would give the workers control over their enterprises.
"We have managed to come out of previous crises and difficulties through fruitful talks that brought about accords, and this gives us the hope that the current tensions will be resolved, too," the church said.
Talks between Solidarity and the government broke down last week over the issue of worker self-management. The government is prepared to listen to the advice of workers' councils while retaining state ownership of enterprises. Thus it rejects economic and political decentralization. Solidarity insists on social ownership of enterprises, somewhat on the Yugoslav model, with workers having the decisive voice in running them.
The tone of the statement indicated that the church is worried about the political impasse that has developed against a background of recrimination, economic difficulty and pressure from nations in the Soviet Bloc.
The powerful position of the Catholic Church in Poland is expected to open the way for resumption of talks, according to Western observers.
Tonight's appeal was cast in a broad context of changes that have taken place here during the last 12 months. The church said that the Gdansk revolt and the later agreement between the government and striking workers constituted a "watershed event in the reconstruction of Poland."
It continued: "This year has been a historic lesson for the entire society, which feels itself free and simultaneously responsible for the course of Poland's development. It was also a lesson for those in power. They had to be convinced that the old way of running the country with the support of a narrow section of the population could not go on."
Now, the statement said, the church opposes further factional political activity "irrespective of the direction it comes from."