Sunday, June 06, 2010

Blessed Father Jerzy Popieluszko.

The day before the Pope arrived in Cyprus a Catholic bishop, Luigi Padovese, was murdered in Turkey.

Today more than 100,000 people attended an open-air mass in the Polish capital Warsaw to beatify Father Jerzy Popieluszko.

The Roman Catholic priest was murdered by the Commmunist secret police for supporting political reform

Popieluszko’s grave remains in the yard of St. Stanislas Church, where he used to give riveting sermons. Since his burial in 1984, it has been visited by many world leaders.

Popieluszko, an outspoken priest, is remembered as one of the historic figures in this predominantly Catholic nation’s struggle against communism. His “Masses for the Homeland” during a time of harsh repression under martial law in the 1980s drew crowds as he preached the value of freedom.

On Oct. 19, 1984, three secret police officers kidnapped the 37-year-old priest and his driver.

The priest was beaten, bound, gagged and stuffed in the trunk of an unmarked police car. He escaped when they pulled in at a secluded parking lot, but was captured again, beaten and stuffed in a sack weighed down with stones and thrown into the Vistula River.

His driver, Waldemar Chrostowski, managed to escape and tell about the priest’s abduction. Popieluszko’s body was found two weeks later.

Popieluszko’s murder sparked massive outrage and drew hundreds of thousands of people to his funeral, in a massive show of opposition to the communist regime. The authorities conducted a quick trial and convicted the three abductors and their immediate superior to prison terms of up to 25 years. All of have since been released.

Beatification procedures opened in 1997.

Last December, Pope Benedict declared Popieluszko a martyr, opening the road to his beatification.

It is an important event as we come to the end of the Year of the Priest.