Polish leader Wojciech Jaruzelski and Roman Catholic Cardinal Jozef Glemp met here today for the first time in 10 months and agreed to pursue efforts to establish full diplomatic relations between Poland and the Vatican and legalize the church's status under communist rule.
In a session reportedly lasting four hours, Jaruzelski and Glemp were believed to have discussed a range of key issues, including a new visit to the country by Polish-born Pope John Paul II and state approval for a church-sponsored fund for private agriculture, western diplomatic sources said.
A report issued tonight by the official PAP news agency, however, mentioned talks only on the subjects of diplomatic relations, legal status, church charitable activity and possible collaboration on combating pollution and "social ills."
The statement said that church-state dialogue was "indispensable" and "should contribute to the building of a national accord that increases . . . engagement in the overcoming of difficulties and in the country's development."
Western diplomats described the meeting as a high point of several months of active negotiations between church and state after a long period of poor relations. With an important communist party congress approaching, Jaruzelski has been seeking to roll back some of the church's gains in power in recent years while hinting at major concessions on other issues.
The official statement issued tonight suggested conciliatory gestures by both sides. Jaruzelski, who has sought to establish the first full diplomatic ties between Warsaw and the Vatican since World War II, won Glemp's agreement to a phrase saying that such a step "would serve this country."
Glemp also agreed with Jaruzelski that "restrictive measures" that "bring harm to the nation" should be lifted, an apparent reference to economic sanctions against Poland maintained by the Reagan administration and other western governments.
[Finance Minister Stanislaw Nieckarz said Thursday that Poland's foreign debt has increased by $1.9 billion to a total of $31.2 billion since Jan. 1 because of the fall of the dollar against other western currencies, Agence France-Presse reported.]
At the same time, the statement addressed the church's long-standing demand for full legal recognition by noting that the two leaders "considered it purposeful to continue work" on such regulation.
Polish political analysts said the placement of the diplomatic and legal issues side by side in the communique indicated the outlines of a potential trade-off between church and state that would represent a major breakthrough in relations. They cautioned, however, that agreements on both questions had been discussed many times in the past without success.
There was no indication tonight on whether the meeting had advanced negotiations on the most pressing church-state issues, which include the pope's plans to visit the country next year, the long-stalled agricultural fund, the treatment of political prisoners, and plans for church construction over the next five years.
Church officials are planning the third papal visit since 1979 for next year, but have differed with government officials over John Paul's proposed schedule. Hoping to minimize the political impact of the trip, authorities have been unwilling to agree to a planned appearance by the pope in Gdansk, the birthplace of the banned trade union Solidarity and home of its still-active leader, Lech Walesa.
Despite signs of progress earlier this year, talks on the agricultural fund and church construction also have also lapsed into difficulties, church sources said. Government officials have withheld permits for some of the church's planned new buildings and have not followed up on informal assurances that the agricultural project would be approved.