Cardinal Jozef Glemp, Poland's Roman Catholic primate, has ordered a radical Warsaw priest banned from speaking at churches in the capital and issued a sharp denunciation of "preachers who wish to voice their own teaching in their own way."
Glemp's attempt to curb political activity by Polish priests follows the recent death of the Rev. Jerzy Popieluszko, an outspoken defender of the outlawed Solidarity union movement. It was conveyed in a letter signed by the cardinal dated Nov. 24 and addressed to all church rectors and administrators in the Warsaw area. Glemp left for Rome two days later to discuss with Pope John Paul II the Popieluszko case and its implications for future church-state relations.
Church sources described the letter as an overdue effort by the primate to discipline the Rev. Stanislaw Malkowski. Glemp has regarded the priest as particularly troublesome and one whose sometimes blatant attacks on Poland's Communist rulers and system have embarrassed even some of the government's severest critics as being out of place coming from the pulpit.
In the letter, Glemp suggested that he was responding to the concerns of others in addition to his own by censuring Malkowski. He referred to "an influx of complaints" about the Warsaw cleric and said that Malkowski's remarks had caused "outrage among the faithful."
But the timing of the action, while Poland still mourns Popieluszko, and its harsh tone, could bring renewed criticism of Glemp from among those who view the primate as being too conciliatory to the government.
Glemp's words are certain to please Polish authorities, who have demanded that the church here crack down on several dozen or more militant priests. The killing of Popieluszko, for which several secret police officers are facing charges, has reinforced the determination of these radical clerics to speak out and has given rise to others around the country.
"The church is constantly preaching the gospel, namely the 'good news,' " wrote Glemp, "and in this task it cannot be restricted either by secular agencies or by church preachers who wish to voice their own teaching in their own way.
"In recent times," the primate went on, "church authorities have been receiving an influx of complaints, and even indignation, of the faithful that some priests allow themselves to be carried away by worldly feelings and instead of preaching divine truths enter into nontheological polemics, which have nothing in common with true patriotism.
"These comments, which are confirmed by very respectable Catholics, cause outrage among the faithful, concerning particularly the activities of the Rev. Stanislaw Malkowski."
Glemp said that despite repeated warnings, including one Nov. 15 from Warsaw's auxiliary bishop, Wladyslaw Miziolek, Malkowski "permitted himself to be carried away by emotions, and the word preached by him was alien to the spirit of the gospel."
The primate's letter said that although Malkowski would be barred from preaching in Warsaw churches, he could continue to perform religious duties at a Warsaw cemetery where he holds his only official church post.
Malkowski said he would not appeal the order or issue a formal statement against it because that "would be mostly improper and would work in favor of the authorities," who have an interest in seeing the church divided.
Malkowski and Popieluszko were among a number of priests harassed by authorities for their opposition activities before last summer's amnesty of political prisoners and those facing political charges. But the two men displayed different preaching styles. Popieluszko avoided open declarations of hatred in his sermons denouncing Poland's Communist leadership, while Malkowski is more of a firebrand.
Glemp has appealed to priests publicly and privately to avoid overtly political acts. In a controversial attempt last February to quiet another defiant Warsaw cleric, the primate transferred the Rev. Mieczyslaw Nowak from a Warsaw suburb to a rural parish and ignored a hunger strike by parishioners on the priest's behalf.
In the Popieluszko case, the Polish press agency PAP filed a dispatch on a long-delayed autopsy report on the slain cleric today confirming that Popieluszko had died of suffocation and had been beaten.
PAP said the report, which has been handed over to the chief public prosecutor in Warsaw, concludes that Popieluszko was beaten on the upper part of his body with a "hard, blunt instrument, most probably a baton or a hand wrapped in a rag," which made the priest "temporarily unconscious" but did not kill him.
"The death was brought about by suffocation caused by gagging the victim and tying him up with a rope," the agency's dispatch said. "No signs were found that would allow one to assume that the victim had been strangled with hands."
Popieluszko's body was pulled -- trussed-up, battered and gagged -- from a reservoir on the Vistula River at Wloclawek, about 90 miles northwest of Warsaw. The government reported that the body was found Oct. 30, 11 days after the priest had disappeared. But some who have seen photos of the corpse have voiced doubts that the body was in the water that long.
In another development, two senior police officers investigating the slaying, Col. Stanislaw Trafalski and Maj. Wieslaw Piatek, were killed Friday morning in a car crash, PAP reported.
According to official press reports, the car in which the officers were riding collided head-on with a truck that had maneuvered to pass a tractor. The driver of the police car also was killed. The driver of the truck was unhurt and is being held responsible for the accident.
The Polish government spokesman said that the accident was "ordinary" and that there is "nothing mysterious" about it.