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A Clear Line

VATICAN WATCH

By James Hitchcock | October 1983

In June Pope John Paul II visited his beloved Poland. While it had been thought by many that he would, for reasons of prudence, have to keep his remarks rather general, the Pope made blunt com­ments about the curtailments of freedom in the country, and expressed his strong hope that agree­ments made in 1980 between the government and the Solidarity trade union movement would con­tinue to be the basis for a viable peace. He also warned against foreign (obviously Soviet) interven­tion in Polish affairs, only a few weeks before Mehmet Ali Agca, who tried to assassinate John Paul in 1981, confirmed long-circulating rumors that the Russian K.G.B. helped organize the assassination attempt.

The Pope has been criticized by some be­cause, while he demands that priests and religious “get out of politics,” he himself takes bold politi­cal stands where his homeland is concerned. Obvi­ously, however, John Paul draws a clear line be­tween holding office, which means being the ser­vant of a particular government, and making moral judgments about politics. He does not forbid or discourage the latter.

As noted here last month, the Vatican gave an ultimatum to a Detroit nun who had accepted a state government post that required her to adminis­ter the public funding of abortion. Faced with the need to make a choice, she resigned from her reli­gious community.

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