WARSAW, Poland -- Pope John Paul II's visit home set the clock ticking for another explosion of Polish worker unrest, but the alarm bell may not be heard for awhile.
Closer on the agenda of national business is lifting martial law.
It technically remains in effect even though there are no more nightly curfews or any other trappings of the military takeover that snuffed out the above-ground life of the Solidarity union.
The pope wanted martial law to be lifted before he arrived in Poland on his second homecoming tour, which he called a pilgrimage of hope. The regime refused, saying it would monitor the extent of social calm more closely during the papal visit and decide later.
There are signs the political pressure the pope brought to bear against Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski's regime will force that decision to be an affirmative one, and soon.
John Paul came to Poland announcing he would defend all Poles 'who havebeen deprived of their liberties, been wronged and had their dignity trampled upon.'
At the Jasna Gora monastery, whose 600th anniversary was the focus of his visit, he declared: 'I am a son of this nation and that's why I feel deeply all of its yearnings, its wish to live in truth, in freedom, in justice and social solidarity.'
He preached of solidarity with a lower-case 's' repeatedly during the trip. In Wroclaw, the union's underground hotbed, he proclaimed, 'To all of you I bring my solidarity and that of the church.' Later in the trip, he actually did mention the outlawed free trade union.
There were no riots during the pope's eight days in Poland, but his appearance generated the biggest and most vocal pro-Solidarity demonstrations ever seen.
He also spoke before audiences thought to have totaled 12 million people, and in an unrehearsed gesture at the end of each of his masses almost every soul present raised an arm in a tribute to Solidarity.
In Warsaw and Poznan, Czestochowa, Katowice and Wroclaw, and finally in Krakow, the pope set down his program for rebuilding faith in Poland. He told the Communist regime it must meet the demands of human rights and worker rights if it is to keep the country on a socialist course.
Not everyone who came to the outdoor church services was a flag-waving Solidarity supporter ready to go on strike or throw a brick to bring down the Communist regime. Far from it.
But the pope's audiences were made up of people who were fiercely loyal to their country and their religion, and overwhelmingly sympathetic to Solidarity.
The regime, which has a history of underestimating the size of any public display that is not organized and sponsored by the government, said 6,650,000 people took part in the public parts of the pope's tour.
Whichever figure is correct, the turnout contrasts sharply with the membership of the Polish Communist Party -- slightly more than 2 million - which the authorities keep insisting must forever play 'the leading role' in the country's affairs.
The pope's first face-to-face meeting with Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski, at Belvedere Palace in Warsaw at the beginning of his trip, included a call to the government to restore the reforms won by Solidarity in August 1980.
Jaruzelski literally was trembling as he read his own speech, which defended the decision to impose martial law 18 months ago and said Poland would remain firmly in the Soviet orbit.
Jaruzelski's chief spokesman said later the government would not budge in its refusal to talk to anyone who formerly played a leading role in Solidarity.
The day before the pope praised the dramatic events of August 1980 that gave birth to Solidarity. The spirit of the workers of Gdansk, he said, 'touched hearts and consciences' everywhere and 'amazed the world.'
The pressure was growing as the pope moved around the country.
In Poznan, on Monday, to a group that included many farmers who had been members of Rural Solidarity, a separate union: 'We see clearly how just is the fight for the fundamental rights of the human person.'
In Katowice, hub of the mining and industrial heartland of Silesia where pro-Solidarity feelings are intense: 'Man is not willing to work when he does not see the sense of his work ... It is a question of a people's right to free association (with a union).'
Pressures were growing within the leadership at this point, Communist Party sources report.
There was an unannounced session of the ruling Politburo late Tuesday, lasting until past midnight. Another Politburo meeting was held Wednesday, when the pope was in Krakow facing a crowd that Western reporters believed was bigger than 2 million people.
There, on the last stop of his trip, he decried 'the arrogant use of power' and exhorted Poles: 'Do not allow yourself to be swallowed up by a wave of ... indifference and despondency.'
Wednesday night came the startling announcement Jaruzelski and the pope were holding a second, unscheduled round of talks.
In a logistical decision that was more than a little ironic, the leader of the Communist Party and the head of the Roman Catholic Church met at Wawel Castle, where Polish kings reigned from the 11th century until 1596.
The state said the pope asked for the meeting and issued a brief communique that raised more questions than it answered.
In public the church kept a discreet silence, but privately well-placed clergymen insisted the announcement was government misinformation: Jaruzelski actually asked for the meeting.
There were dark rumors about the pressure the general was feeling from his many critics in the hardline wing of the Polish party, who think he is too 'soft' on dissenters in Poland despite his invocation of martial law.
The full story of the pope's meeting with Jaruzelski has not yet come out, but it probably holds the key to the entire papal visit.
As the pope left his homeland Thursday, praying 'that good will triumph in Poland' in the future, there was speculation he persuaded the regime to move forward with its plan to end martial law.
One of Jaruzelski's key aides mentioned the date July 22, celebrated as the national holiday of the socialist state.
Weeks ago posters anticipating the pope's arrival appeared in all Polish churches. A bold red and white design reminiscent of the distinctive scrawl that spread 'Solidarnosc' around the world said in one Polish word: 'We are waiting.'
The pope has gone, but the posters remain. Poles say they are still waiting for the next move.