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Religion: Hot Seat

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Poland’s new primate When news of the appointment broke last week, the leader of the Communist Party joined the nation’s President and Premier in sending congratulations.

The government newspaper declared that the new man “enjoys the sincere and warm approval of the state.” The subject of all this attention was a short, stout farmer’s son named Jozef Glemp, who was named Archbishop of Gniezno and Warsaw and Roman Catholic Primate of Poland. “I want peace and unity for the whole nation,” he promptly declared.

With Poland’s internal wrangling and threats from the Soviet Union, Glemp assumes one of Catholicism’s most difficult thrones. At 52, he is the youngest of the 21 bishops who head Polish dioceses. But he enjoyed the confidence of the previous primate, Stefan Cardinal Wyszynski, who died May 28. Before he became Bishop of the Warmia region in 1979, Glemp spent a dozen years in Wyszynski’s secretariat, first as an adviser on canon law, then as the Cardinal’s private chaplain.

Glemp says he enjoyed a “father and son” relationship with Wyszynski.

A onetime laborer who earned two doctorates in Rome, Glemp has gained valuable experience negotiating with Communists on church-state relations.

Glemp will be no Wyszynski. Prior to the appointment, Cracow’s Father Andrzej Bardecki remarked that Wyszynski was “the unofficial dictator of the church, with prerogatives like no one else in the his tory of the church in Poland.” But, while his successor is likely to be more collegial, the shrewd Wyszynski made sure that a well-prepared primate would still be in the thick of things.

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