860C.00/2–347: Telegram

The Ambassador in Poland (Lane) to the Secretary of State

confidential   urgent

181. I gave to Cardinal Hlond1 today Polish translation of Dept’s statement of January 282 which he described as “excellent” and said that it would have very good effect on Polish people. He said it is most important for our govt to distinguish between Polish Govt which does not represent Polish people and Polish people itself and for this reason he hoped would not sever diplomatic relations. Cardinal said that withdrawal of foreign Embassies would mean end of Polish people and end of association of Poland with western world.

I told Cardinal confidentially that I would not attend opening of Sejm tomorrow and in event that mass is said in Procathedral as has been reported I hoped he would not construe my absence as lack of respect to his church. I said I had heard reports that Bishop of Katowice had been requested by govt to offer mass.

Cardinal said that position of church has been distorted by govt so as to make it appear that church approves recent elections to Sejm. Bishops of Katowice and Lodz have been requested by govt to offer masses on Sunday following elections as indication of popular jubilation. He directed bishops to inform govt that masses would be held on Sunday as always and persons attending masses would pray according to their intentions (he added ironically that few of members of govt knew how to pray). Bishop of Lodz had also been requested by govt to ring churchbells on Sunday following elections as indication of thanksgiving. Cardinal instructed bishop to say that few churchbells in Poland due to confiscation by Germans but churchbells would call faithful to mass every Sunday throughout Poland. If people wished to construe this as thanksgiving that is up to individuals.

Cardinal said that up to now he had not been requested to offer mass on occasion of opening of Sejm. If he were so requested he would give permission as it is policy of church always to permit people to pray whether people are an association of barbers or members of [Page 417] Polish Govt. He said emphatically, however, that neither he nor any of his bishops would attend mass for obviously Polish Govt would wish to construe mass as a political event and this Cardinal could not tolerate.

Cardinal said that his views are that election to Sejm was due to intimidation, violence and falsification and that Sejm did not represent in any way will of Polish people.

I said I felt sure my govt would be gratified to learn that the primate of over 20 million Poles endorsed the views which General Marshall had expressed on January 28 and that I personally was glad that opinions of our observers and myself had been confirmed by highest authority of church in Poland.

  1. Archbishop of Gniezno and Warsaw and Primate of Poland.
  2. See the editorial note, p. 414.