Father Jerzy Popiełuszko

Father Jerzy Popiełuszko was closely associated with workers' circles and the "Solidarity" movement from 1980 onwards, calling for prayers for Poland and proclaiming the patriotic wishes of many Poles.

On 19 October 1984, at the behest of Poland's Communist authorities, Ministry of Interior employees in police uniforms kidnapped, tortured and murdered the Catholic priest Jerzy Popieluszko with particular cruelty.

There were more crimes of this type - murders of Catholic priests by Communists - but this one could not be hidden because the driver of the car in which Father Popieluszko was riding managed to escape from the murderers. The news about this crime spread through the whole Poland and also abroad. The news caused an uproar in Polish society, which forced the communist official authorities to take legal action against the murderers.

The direct perpetrators were convicted of abduction, torture and murder: captain Grzegorz Piotrowski (head of Department IV of the Ministry of Internal Affairs), lieutenant Leszek Pękala and lieutenant Waldemar Chmielewski, while their superior, colonel Adam Pietruszka (deputy director of Department IV of the Ministry of Internal Affairs) was convicted of directing the crime. The court sentenced Grzegorz Piotrowski to 25 years' imprisonment, Adam Pietruszka to 25 years, Leszek Pękala to 15 years, and Waldemar Chmielewski to 14 years; however, as a result of the intervention of the authorities and an amnesty, the sentences were reduced to 15 years for Piotrowski, 10 years for Pietruszka, 6 years for Pękala, and 4.5 years for Chmielewski.

Father Jerzy Popieluszko's funeral took place on 3 November 1984. It gathered huge crowds of people and turned into a huge manifestation. It was no longer the turmoil of Solidarity's intellectual elite, it was the turmoil of ordinary people everywhere: communism or socialism was no longer another political option, but an openly hostile grouping of murderers.

It is difficult to say what influence the election of a Pole as Pope in 1978, the Solidarity movement from 1980 and finally the murder of Father Popieluszko in 1984 had on the subsequent changes in the political system in Europe (and in the world), but it is a fact that several months after Father Popieluszko's murder the first talks between the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union M. Gorbachev and the President of the USA took place. Gorbachev and US President R. Reagan, and then subsequent ones which led to the withdrawal of USSR troops from Poland (and other European countries as well), the partial collapse of the USSR and many changes in political arrangements around the world.

(Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator)


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