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Feb 21, 2024

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Polish Bytes Update

Compiled by Robert Strybel,
Warsaw Correspondent

Cardinal Wyszyński to be beatified in June 2020
Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński, who served as the Primate of Poland form 1948 until his death in 1981, is to be beatified in Warsaw next June, The announcement came after Pope Francis signed a decree recognizing a miracle that occurred through the Polish religious leader’s intercession, a prerequisite for beatification. Beatification is the penultimate stage leading to Catholic sainthood. The Polish Primate had shepherded his nation through 33 years of Soviet-imposed communist rule and was imprisoned for three years by the Stalinist regime. Upon his release in 1956, he launched a nine-year Novena  leading to the 1966 national celebration of Poland’s Christian Millennium. The communists replied with a costly counter-celebration honoring Polish statehood. After Cardinal Karol Wojtyła was elected Pope John Paul II in 1979, he went on record as saying: “There would have been no Polish pope” without Primate Wyszyński’s faith, heroic hope and limitless confidence in the Mother of God.” He died of cancer at the age of 79 amidst the ongoing Solidarity revolution His beatification ceremony will be carried out in Warsaw on June 7, 2020 by
papal envoy Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu.

Poland elected to UN Human Rights Council
Poland has been elected to the United Nations 47-member Human Rights Council that oversees human rights worldwide. During the vote, 124 countries cast their ballots for Poland to be part of the council for a three-year term.  Last summer, Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz informed reporters of Poland’s desire to join the United Nations body for the 2020-2022 term. He added that his country’s priorities include “advancing the rights of children and people with disabilities in armed conflicts.” Poland also plans to focus on helping religious minorities and on strengthening civil society.

Poles observe 35th anniversary of martyr-priest’s slaying
Poland has marked the 35th anniversary of the brutal slaying of Father Jerzy Popiełuszko whose Masses for the home had uplifted the spirits of his downtrodden countrymen during the grim martial law period (1981-84). Although he never mentioned Soviet-trained dictator General Jaruzelski or communist treachery by name, his congregations knew he was on their side when he spoke of human dignity and spiritual values. Ten days after his abduction, Popiełuszko’s bound, gagged and mutilated remains were fished out of the Vistula, and four communsit secret policemen were found guilty of the crime, All four later had their sentenccs reduced. Father Popiełuszko was beatified as a martyr for the faith in 2010, and his grave has in the courtyard of Warsaw’ Saint Stanislaus Kostka Church has attracted millions of pilgrims from across Poland and around the world.

Battle of the Senate under way in Poland
Poland’s formerly ruling liberal Civic Platform (PO)party and its small coalition partner, the agrarian-based Polish People’s Party, lost the 2015 parliamentary election to the conservatvcie Law and Justice (PiS) party. For the frustrated opposition parties all that was left were futile attacks, protests and boycotts of those in power whose public support has remained high. A glimmer of hope appeared for the opposition when in October his year PiS won only 48 seats and fell short of a majority in the 100-seat body, Fearing that a slim opposition majority would be able to block or at least delay its reform program, PiS has sought, supporters on the opposition side. “If any senator goes over to PiS, he risks his life and that of his family,” threatened PO Senator Jerzy Fedorowicz. “Is this the Senate or the Mafia?” many voices on social media asked.

Poland sign deal to build crucial new outlet to the Baltic
A Polish-Belgian consortium will build a canal connecting the Vistula Lagoon with the Bay of Gdańsk on the Baltic Sea by 2022. The project is expected to cost around $252 million.  “The planned new canal has been discussed for decades and today it is finally becoming a reality,” Polish Navigation Minister Marek Grobarczyk said at the signing ceremony. The 1.3-kilometer (eight-tenths of a mile) long canal will be created by digging through the a thin strip of land separating the bay from the lagoon on Polish territory. Its purpose  is to allow deep-draft vessels to enter Poland’s Port of Elbląg without passing through Russia’s Strait of Baltiysk which has been intermittently closed to Polish navigation for “maintenance” (read: political reasons).

Poland opposed to EU budget cuts
At a recent European Union summit in Brussels. Poland voiced its opposition to a slashed  draft budget proposed by Finland, which holds the bloc’s rotating presidency  until the end of the year.  If we want an ambitious Europe, we must have the resources to match it.” Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki told reporters. There are fears that the  United Kingdom’s  withdrawal from the EU will downsize the bloc’s financial pool. There have also been calls to make subsidies dependent on observance of the rule of law as defined by the Brussels leadership.

LOT Airlines launch direct Warsaw to San Francisco flights
After US President Donald Trump announced that Poles could travel to America without visas, Poland’s LOT Airlines unveiled plans for their direct Warsaw to San Francisco flights. The new connection, to be launched on August 5th, 2020, will be LOT’s ninth direct Poland-US flight. The flights will leave Warsaw’s Chopin Airport  four times a week, with passengers traveling aboard state-of-the-art Boeing 787 Dreamliners. The 6,200-mile flight is expected to take about 12 hours,  This year, the airlines hope to serve a record ten million customers.

2020 is Jan Kowalewski Year, Polish Senate resolves
Poland’s Senate has voted to designate 2020 Jan Kowalewski year honing the Polish cryptologist who helped his country stop the 1920 Bolshevik invasion at the gates of Warsaw. An expert mathematician and linguist, as an army officer Kowalewski was credited with deciphering Soviet military codes which informed the Polish side about what the enemy was planning. The Senate resolution also hailed the achievements of Polish science and engineering in the years following Poland’s re-emergence as an independent country.

Warsaw wants Albania and North Macedonia in the EU
Poland voiced support for the European Union membership bid of Albania  and North Macedonia at a Brussels summit whose agenda included the question of the bloc’s further expansion. Advocates of expansion, including Poland, point out that the
two Western Balkan countries have fulfilled all the specified entrance requirements. The now independent former Yugoslav republic even changed its official name to North Macedonia to resolve a conflict with Greece which claimed the name Macedonia should be reserved for one of its regions. From Warsaw’s perspective, having more countries in the EU is a counterweight to the domination of Old Europe, the bloc’s original founding countries – Germany, France and Benelux.

Gifted Polish singer named Young Artist of the Year
Polish countertenor Jakub Orliński, 29,  won the  Young Artist of the Year award granted by Britain’s prestigious Gramophone magazine. Orliński is one of the world’s most sought-after countertenors. He studied at the Warsaw’s Fryderyk Chopin University of Music before receiving postgraduate training at New York+s renowned Julliard School. Orliński has won numerous singing competitions on both sides of the Atlantic. He is laso into break dancing and modeling.