By a special correspondent
rr HE Bishops of Poland have declared that they -1cannot " yield " any further to the religious intolleration of the Communist regime there, and that hopes of a Communist change of heart raised during Pope John's reign have proved groundless.
The Bishops denounced the Polish regime's anti-Church measures in a joint message to their priests.
But they emphasised that "the former rigid intentions of militant atheism to maintain the existing rotrictions On the Church, and to further strangle religious life in the souls of the people, remain in force.
The bishops' message began by noting that Pope John's humanitarian appeals for peace and reconciliation among men had persuaded Poland's Red leaders to modify their fanatically hostile attitude towards the Holy See and even to express approval for Pope John's ideas. And this situation. they said. created among Poland's Catholics and also among its bishops a hope for changes "in the attitude of the ruling atheists towards the ruled believers".
It brought about hopes that "people would not be fired from their jobs for aoing to church, that the regime would allow pilgrimages and the construction of churches and buildings. for cotechetical instruction, that children in [government-operated] summer camps would not be forbidden to go to Mass ... that officials of the [government] Office of Worship would stop harassing the catechetical centres. and that, perhaps. summonses. blackmail and seizure of personal property would come to an end".
But "these hopes were groundless", the bishops' message declared.
"There is a threat that major seminaries will be seized. Theological studies are already being disorganised by inducting seminarians into the army."
"How many citizens have been discharged from work .. . because of their participation in the Jasna Gora [Marian] solemnities. in the Corpus Christi processions?" the bishops' message asked. "Who can count all the children who already at the age or ten must pay with sacrifices for confessing their faith. who when they go to first Holy Communion. must hide in a distant town. most often with their grandparents, so as not to expose their parents to grave charges. admonitions or even loss of work? These are facts universally known and numerous. But who will dare to speak about them. who will dare point to them as signs of open intolerance and discrimination'?"
The message stated that in all of Poland only five Catholic schools remain. probably as a showcase for foreign delegations.