COVID-19 restrictions limited attendance at the beatification Mass of Stefan Cardinal Wyszyński on Sunday in Warsaw, Poland, to seven thousand of the faithful. The beatification had already been delayed more than a year due to the virus lockdowns. But the restrictions and cloudy weather could not limit the sheer joy of the Cardinal’s countrymen, nor their gratitude for the long-awaited event.
Wyszyński, beloved prelate and primate of Poland throughout the mid-twentieth century, who faced down both the National Socialists of Germany during World War II and the repressive postwar Communist regime, is a revered figure in Poland, on par with his colleague more well-known in the wider world, St. John Paul II. Wyszyński’s landmark 1953 document Non Possumus, in which he denounced the Communist regime’s attempts to suppress the power of and interfere with the autonomy of the Church and the Faith in Poland as the last straw with which no compliance could be made, was a manly, stalwart, and truly pastoral response in the face of the forces of anti-Christ.
Indeed, Wyszyński’s efforts as a prominent figure in the Universal Church through the sixties and seventies in great part paved the way to the election of the Polish Pontiff himself, who credited Wyszyński with his papacy and who became the man most responsible for the downfall of the Soviet Union. After Wyszyński’s virtuous opposition became apparent, he suffered three years of imprisonment and isolation, forced to watch the torture of other prisoners. Shifting politics allowed for his begrudging release in 1956, after which he secured the rights of the Church as untouchable by the state. The Communists did not dare again to challenge the authority of the Church in Poland.