Poland has ruled out for now a general amnesty for political prisoners, according to a government spokesman who said today the matter would not be considered until conditions become "completely stabilized."
Poland's Roman Catholic Church called on the authorities last week to grant an amnesty as a good-will gesture before the planned visit to Poland in June by Pope John Paul II.
Government spokesman Jerzy Urban told reporters that 1,500 prisoners--a number equal to those who have been charged with political crimes under martial law--have applied for pardons under terms established by the Council of State. A number of these applications, though, are from common criminals who, Urban said, are trying to take advantage of the clemency process.
He said each case would be reviewed individually, but he termed a general clemency an "exceptional act" and observed that "the situation has not matured to the stage where the authorities could consider granting an amnesty at present."
Warsaw officials have sought to dispel widespread doubts that the pope will agree to visit Poland, his homeland, unless the government relaxes further its repressive grip on society. The trip is said by these officials to be fixed and further church-state talks on an exact travel plan for the pope are portrayed more as working out procedural details than conducting a negotiation with long-term repercussions on church-state relations here.
Polish primate Jozef Glemp has supported the officials' version, to the annoyance of some other church officials who would prefer to see more public pressure on the authorities to make concessions so that the pope does not appear to be blessing the current government of Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski by his visit.
Returning yesterday from a week-long trip to the Vatican, where he was elevated to cardinal, Glemp told reporters he was confident the pope's visit to Poland would take place, although he added that an official invitation from the Polish government would not be extended until a precise itinerary for the papal pilgrimage was agreed on by a church-state commission.
Urban, speaking at a regular weekly press conference, did leave open the possibility of an amnesty in the future.
"I cannot exclude that sometime in the future, when the situation becomes completely stabilized, when normal times have returned, the authorities will consider an amnesty that will close these stormy times behind us," the spokesman said.
In response to another question, Urban said one factor holding up the final lifting of martial law, suspended in December, is the continuation of U.S. economic sanctions against Poland "which do not create a normal situation." But he added that elimination of the sanctions was not a necessary condition for ending martial law.