The head of Poland's Roman Catholic Church, Archbishop Jozef Glemp, told Poles today they should listen to their consciences in deciding whether to sign loyalty pledges demanded by the Communist authorities.
Echoing the words of Pope John Paul II in a sermon in the Vatican today, Glemp said no one has the right to force people to go against their consciences. It was the second time in less than a week that he attacked Poland's martial-law authorities for suppression of human rights.
In his most searing condemnation so far of martial-law rule in his native Poland, the pope said the military government's violation of Poles' consciences is worse than murder, United Press International reported from the Vatican. "Under the threat of losing their jobs, citizens are being forced to sign declarations that do not agree with their consciences and with their convictions," the pope said.
The issue of loyalty pledges and the dismissals of Solidarity activists from their jobs is believed to have figured prominently in talks yesterday between Glemp and Poland's military leader, Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski. Apart from a brief communique saying that the two had discussed the situation in Poland, no details have emerged from the talks.
With the independent trade union movement Solidarity suspended, the Catholic Church has emerged as a focal point of opposition to the new martial-law decrees. But, while Glemp and other church leaders have expressed their abhorrence of the measures, they also have appealed to Poles to avoid further bloodshed and violence.
Speaking in the Church of St. Augustine in central Warsaw, Glemp said the church was doing everything possible to help detained Solidarity activists and their families, including holding talks with the government.
"We make interventions; we appeal to the authorities; we send them letters. We're trying to visit all of the camps to give the detainees some hope and relief, even the smallest," he said.
According to official figures, more than 5,000 Solidarity activists are being held in 47 internment camps around the country. In addition, 3,000 more were arrested and charged or sentenced under specific martial-law regulations.
Glemp said that pressure by the authorities to extract loyalty oaths created a "problem of conscience for very many people."
"This is always a personal problem . . . . Even God himself does not intervene in our consciences, but he will judge according to them," he added. "We must make decisions according to our consciences and nobody has the right to break them."
Senior Polish officials have said that "ideological verification" is under way in government offices and newspapers. They defend the practice on the ground that the state has the right to demand loyalty from its employes.
Meanwhile, in a slight relaxation of martial law, telephones throughout Poland were reconnected today for local calls. Poles were warned that the calls would be censored and interrupted if conversations turned subversive.
Callers dialing some numbers, including the Polish Roman Catholic bishops' office, heard recorded messages saying: "This call is being monitored."
A leading Polish actress, Maja Komorowska, who led a campaign to assist families of those detained, said her phone was cut off after she made an appointment with a friend. A strange voice on the line said, "This is telephone control. We are switching off."
A visitor to Bialoleka Prison in northern Warsaw, where about 350 Solidarity activists were being held, reported seeing dissident Jacek Kuron, who was recently transferred from an internment camp in northern Poland. Tight police security was enforced when Kuron and several other senior Solidarity officials and advisers were transferred.
Kuron was quoted as saying that while he was being driven to Warsaw one of his police escorts removed his handcuffs. He was asked to give his autograph to all the policemen in the van, which he did.
Radio Warsaw today reported a state of emergency caused by heavy snow and rain west of Warsaw. The Vistula River overflowed its banks, and thousands of residents were being evacuated from their homes by troops, police and firefighters.
UPI reported the following from Vatican City:
Pope John Paul II, speaking to a crowd estimated at 30,000 in St. Peter's Square, said today that "violation of conscience is a grave act against man. It is the most painful blow inflicted on human dignity. And in a certain sense, it is worse than inflicting physical death, murder."
The pope's comments were the strongest condemnation of military rule in his homeland since martial law was imposed Dec. 13.
"The entire world, and particularly the nations of Europe and America, continue to worry about the situation that has been created in Poland with the proclamation of the state of siege," the pope said.
"Such a state has brought a violation of the fundamental rights of man and of the nation."
Referring to a statement by Glemp Wednesday criticizing declarations renouncing Solidarity membership and signed under government coercion, John Paul said, "The primate of Poland affirmed, as did the cardinal of Krakow Franciszek Macharski , that one of the most fundamental rights of man is being violated: the right to liberty of conscience and convictions."
The pope said: "The principle of the respect of conscience is a fundamental right of man, guaranteed by constitutions and by international accords. I raise my voice to God, together with all men of good will, so that the consciences of my co-nationals are not suffocated."
Reuter reported the following from Warsaw:
The official Polish news agency PAP said all universities and technical institutes in Poland would resume classes by mid-February under tight restrictions.
PAP reported that the University of Warsaw and universities and colleges in other towns reopened yesterday for some courses, such as postgraduate studies and evening classes. All had been closed when martial law was declared.
Today's report said guidelines from the Ministry of Higher Education and Technology included strict observance of martial-law regulations, programs to make up for time lost during the winter term, temporary regulations for student hostels, increased control over printing and copying machines and precensorship of scientific and other publications.
Students and university staff were banned from remaining on campuses beyond the time needed for classes and library work.
Temporary campus regulations introduced on Friday also stipulated the basic duties of students. These included "a moral and civic posture worthy of a student of the Polish People's Republic, strict observance of laws and regulations and a systematic and conscientious learning," PAP reported.
Radio Warsaw, monitored in Vienna, reported on legal proceedings against some former Communist Party officials in the city of Poznan.
It said Stanislaw Mierczarek, former head of Poznan's communications department, had been jailed for six years on charges of taking a bribe. Ten others were convicted at the same trial, the radio said.
It said three former Communist Party secretaries in Poznan were on trial on fraud charges. The verdicts were to be announced later.