Cardinal Jozef Glemp, leader of the Roman Catholic Church in Poland, concluded a quiet seven-day visit Monday that was marked by colorful meetings with Polish Americans, renewed spiritual and financial ties with American Catholicism and virtually no overt international politics.
Glemp and church officials characterized the trip to Philadelphia, Detroit and Washington as an opportunity for the primate to visit Poles outside Poland, a pastoral, not political visit.
But while he was here, Glemp did more than ceremonial duties. One of his key missions was financial: he pressed American church leaders to move ahead with plans for a program that would channel American and Western European financial help to 3.5 million private farmers in Poland. A pilot project has been designed to channel $50 million to strapped Polish farmers.
Also, Glemp's very presence, just before the Polish leader Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski arrives for United Nations ceremonies this week, also serves a very real political purpose, one church leader said.
"The Catholic authorities in Poland find it very, very, helpful to remind the Polish government, without exactly flaunting it in their face, that they do have friends in high places in the United States," said Russell Shaw, spokesman for the National Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Glemp was scheduled to visit here two years ago, but canceled his plans because of his government's crackdown on the independent trade union Solidarity.
While in Philadelphia, Glemp was the guest of Cardinal John Krol, who has promoted to the American bishops the effort to aid Polish farmers.
The plan, as he explained it last November to the annual National Conference of Catholic Bishops meeting here, would establish an agricultural foundation, financed largely by U.S. and West European sources, for self-help projects for private farmers in Poland.
Krol said the U.S. government "has pledged $10 million" to the project. Glemp said before he left Monday that he hoped to have the foundation in operation within a few weeks.
The only political theme he spoke out on publicly and repeatedly during his visit was criticism of U.S. economic sanctions President Reagan imposed against Poland in 1981 when the Communist regime imposed martial law.
In his Washington press conference, Glemp called sanctions "unjust toward the Polish nation," adding that "the rupture of economic and scientific collaboration is of great damage to the Polish people."
In Philadelphia, the Polish prelate was awarded an honorary degree from Villanova University for being "a moderating influence between a harsh government and its dissident citizens."
In accepting the degree, Glemp contrasted Christianity with socialism, saying that in the latter, "Goals are determined by the collective, and the individual remains subordinate to these goals." Christians, he said, believe that "each person is responsible for his or her freedom because each has the ability to choose goals."
Like any tourist, Glemp visited Independence Hall in Philadelphia, posed for pictures before the Lincoln Memorial and stopped at Lafayette Park to lay a wreath on the statue of Gen. Thaddeus Kosciusko, the Polish-born hero of the American Revolution.
But Glemp did not make any appointments with American government leaders, saying that he was "not competent" to discuss politics at the same time he was carrying on his quieter missions.