Stefan Wyszynski


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(b. 3 Aug. 1901, d. 28 May 1981).

Primate of Poland 1948–81 Born in Zuzela, he studied at the Roman Catholic University of Lublin, before becoming a teacher at a seminary, where he was noted for his social catholicism and his progressiveness. During World War II he went underground, and in 1945 was appointed Bishop of Lublin. In 1948, he became Bishop of Warsaw, and in 1953 was made a cardinal. An outspoken critic of government repression, he was arrested and confined to a monastery, 1951–6. Then, he reached an understanding of coexistence with Gomulka. The Roman Catholic Church subsequently refrained from criticism in matters not of direct concern, and was in return given the freedom to minister to the spiritual needs of its flock. Even though the Church thus became careful not to call for open opposition to the government, its very presence as a social and cultural force that allowed refuge from the Communist state machinery became the greatest challenge to the state, which in the 1980s it proved unable to overcome.

Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).

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