Pope John Paul II today emphatically defended Solidarity's right...


KATOWICE, Poland -- Pope John Paul II today emphatically defended Solidarity's right to exist before a cheering crowd of more than a million and referred to the banned union by name for the first time on his trip.

John Paul's speech on workers' rights before a vast crowd from the coal mines and steel mills of Silesia followed an address in Poznan earlier today in which he praised Rural Solidarity by name and paid tribute to workers slain in labor riots.


The pontiff's comments were the sharpest yet on the sensitive union issue and came only a day after the government angrily warned that his public masses were turning into demonstrations against the Communist regime.

Mourning the death of seven Silesian coal miners killed by police in the first days of martial law 18 months ago, the pope said Poland could only begin solving the deep divisions between the Communist government and society if 'a true dialogue' emerges.


'It is a question of a people's right to free association,' John Paul said, quoting from the late Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski as he has done many times before on this trip. 'It is not a right ... given to us by the state. The state has the obligation only to protect and guard it so that it is not violated.'

Unions 'are a mouthpiece for the struggle for social justice, for the just rights of working people,' the pope added, referring to his own previous writings on the subject.

More than a million people, penned in wooden crowd-control corrals that covered an entire airport, stood in a downpour listening to the pope's speech.

A 50-foot cross covered with flowers rose behind the pope at the Katowice prayer service, devoted to honoring a madonna sacred to the region.

In his sermon at a mass in Poznan for the beatification of Polish nun Ursula Ledochowska, John Paul paid tribute to the memory of workers slain in labor riots and cited the words of Wyszynski 'to the representatives of Rural Solidarity.'

'We see clearly how just is the fight for the fundamental rights of the human person, how well-founded is a further reason for respecting those rights,' the pope quoted the cardinal as saying.


John Paul fervently urged, 'You, farmers of the whole of my homeland, keep in mind these words.'

It was the pope's first public naming of one of the independent labor unions that sprang to life a year after his 1979 Polish visit only to be crushed by martial law Dec. 13, 1981.

Applause greeted the pope's reference to Rural Solidarity, the banned farmers union. At the end of the mass nearly every arm in the half-million-strong congregation shot up in Solidarity's V-for-victory sign and sang 'God Bless Poland,' the union's unofficial anthem.

Poles attach great importance to anniversaries and John Paul's Poznan stop was six days short of the anniversary of that city's bloody uprising in 1956, when police killed scores of striking workers.

The pope said he wished 'to kneel and pay homage' at the two crosses erected 'in memory of the victims of 1956' -- the first against Communist rule in Poland.

But as he was leaving the city, John Paul's motorcade was steered away from the monument and police in riot gear blocked off the site to keep demonstrators away.

In recent addresses, John Paul has been using the word 'solidarity,' although not in direct reference to the banned union.


Angered and stung, the military regime warned the Roman Catholic church to keep its faithful 'in line' until the pope returns to Rome Thursday or risk grave harm to the delicate balance between church and state.

A church source said that after the warning the pope originally planned a far stronger speech in Czestochowa Sunday but toned it down after the government warned his statements were upsetting the nation's political stability.

The official text of the address was released a 12 hours after it was given with no explanation from the Vatican.

Sunday the pope made blunt, repeated demands for 'worker solidarity,' for 'freedom, justice and social solidarity' and for renewed 'social dialogue' of the kind that gave birth to the now-banned Solidarity trade union less than three years ago.

'The visit of the pope will not change the course upon which we have embarked,' the government's chief spokesman said. 'The government will further strengthen the socialist state.'

Yet John Paul doggedly and almost angrily fought to change its course.

'After 1,000 years of historical experience, this nation can live its own life,' the pope cried.

To the Virgin Mary, so revered here that Catholics regard her as the queen of Poland, the pontiff entrusted 'everything that has been worked out in the difficult period of the last few years, especially since August 1980' when Solidarity was born.


'Don't let everything that's true and right disappear,' the pope said. 'Let the social dialogue be renewed with courage,' so that Poles can 'regain the hope of fully participating in deciding about (their) common life.'

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