The primate of Poland's powerful Roman Catholic Church today condemned widespread street disturbances this week to protest martial law as playing into the hands of "extremists" on both sides who wish confrontation.
In a 40-minute interview, Archbishop Jozef Glemp also criticized the Communist authorities for not moving fast enough to defuse social unrest. He said he believed that the organizers of demonstrations in many Polish cities on Monday had acted without the consent of the leaders of the suspended Solidarity trade union.
Glemp was speaking at his Warsaw residence following a two-day meeting with his fellow bishops in Czestochowa, Poland's most revered religious shrine. The meeting of the Polish episcopate ended with a statement declaring that the disturbances might "delay social agreement, stop steps taken toward normalization of life, and disorient young people."
The archbishop said the pope still hoped to visit Poland in August to attend celebrations marking the 600th anniversary of the arrival in Czestochowa of the icon of the Black Madonna. But he said the visit could only take place if social tensions calmed down, internees were freed and trade unions reactivated.
The church's official position on the street violence reflected the expressed fears of some senior Solidarity advisers that the incidents might be used by hard-liners in the Communist Party as a pretext for lifting the union's currently suspended legal status. A night curfew, lifted on Sunday, has been reimposed in many parts of the country and today some of the more than 1,300 detained demonstrators began appearing in special martial-law courts.
Church leaders, however, are also disturbed by the fact that--five months after the military takeover--there have still been no formal negotiations between the government and Solidarity.
Asked why the episcopate had criticized the pro-Solidarity demonstrations so sharply, Glemp replied: "We are aware that extremists are behind this activity. This doesn't help at all since it delays the lifting of martial law. We know that someone wants to prolong it--the extremists from both the right and the left. On this point they agree."
Glemp said he was convinced that the detained Solidarity leader, Lech Walesa, had "nothing to do" with the disturbances. "It is perfidy to attribute this to Solidarity when it is not Solidarity. The real Solidarity does not do such things," he said.
The primate said Walesa, who is visited regularly by Catholic priests, was in good psychological and physical shape despite the fact that he is being held in isolation from other Solidarity leaders. Glemp said he had appealed for Walesa to be transferred from a villa outside Warsaw to a regular internment camp, as "it is hard to be alone."
Earlier this year the church suggested privately to the government that it would assume responsibility for Walesa's behavior if he were set free. Glemp indicated, however, that this plan had now been dropped and hopes for Walesa's early release had faded.
Glemp, 53, who became primate of Poland last July following the death of cardinal Stefan Wyszynski, has emerged as a key figure following the imposition of martial law. He returned last week from a meeting in Rome with the Polish-born pontiff, John Paul II, and just before that had a long session with the premier, Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski.
Under Glemp's patronage, a social council of leading Catholic laymen has produced proposals for a new national agreement. In return for its reinstatement, Solidarity would accept part of the blame for the escalation of tensions in Poland prior to martial law and recognize "political realities"--meaning Poland's position within the Soviet Bloc.
Glemp said he welcomed steps taken so far to ease martial law, including the release of many Solidarity internees, although he indicated that progress could have been quicker.
Asked what additional steps the government could have taken, Glemp said it could have freed all women internees, granted some kind of amnesty for people charged with breaking martial law, and lifted earlier the restrictions on communications.
But he said the main point of difference that emerged during his talks with Jaruzelski was over the future of trade unions.
"The authorities are very afraid of reactivating Solidarity. They think that its statutes and the Gdansk agreements recognizing independent trade unions provide a basis for its development as a political force," he said.
The primate made clear that he did not insist that Solidarity be reinstated in exactly the same form as before the imposition of martial law. He said Walesa and other Solidarity leaders should themselves consider how their trade union could fit into "the new order" and be "born again."
"This is for them to decide. But first it's neccessary for the government to talk to Walesa and the others. At the moment no serious talks are going on."
Glemp said one obstacle to such negotiations was "lack of will," another "outside pressures." Asked if he was referring to Soviet pressure, he smiled: "I am not saying--but obviously Solidarity has international importance."
Turning to the church's proposals for national agreement, Glemp said they were intended as a basis for discussion rather than as a take-it-or-leave-it offer to the regime.
"The fact that they reject the church document does not mean that the ideas are not getting through. They reject it now, but someday in the future things might look different. The document was quoted in a speech in the Sejm National Assembly . . . so they know the contents and that was our goal."
The primate said that a final decision on the papal visit need not be made until June. In private, other church leaders indicate the visit will almost certainly be called off. The Czestochowa celebrations have been extended to allow for the visit to be rescheduled next year.
Glemp insisted, however, that the existence of martial law need not be a barrier to the pope returning to Poland. What mattered was the content of martial law--not the label. The institution, he said, could be used against hard-liners within the Communist Party or "criminal elements."