On Friday, October 19th when Jan-Aage Torp speaks at the Congress of the Europa Christi Movement at Łódź University in Poland, there will be a commemoration of one of the modern-day martyrs of the Church in Europe: The blessed Jerzy Popieluszko, priest and martyr from Warsaw, patron of the famous Soidarnosc (Solidarity) Movement, a Polish Roman Catholic priest who became associated with the opposition Solidarity trade union in communist Poland. He was murdered in 1984 by three agents of Służba Bezpieczeństwa (Security Service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs).
- I am honored to play a part in this historic occasion, underscores Jan-Aage Torp, who has been invited as a speaker because the Catholic leaders have identified him as a man who goes through severe persecution for Christ in modern-day Norway, and that he stands up for Christians from all denominations in Europe today that are being degraded and persecuted by the anti-Christian forces within media and society in Europe.It is a great honor for KKN that our Chairman Jan-Aage Torp will be speaking together with Msgr. Lluis Clavell, a member of the Roman Curia in the Vatican, and Cardinal Mauro Piacenza from Rome, who is the Prelate of the Roman Catholic Church in Italy
Jerzy Popieluszko was a staunch anti-communist, and in his sermons, interwove spiritual exhortations with political messages, criticizing the Communist system and motivating people to protest. During the period of martial law the Catholic Church was the only force that could voice protest comparatively openly, with the regular celebration of Mass presenting opportunities for public gatherings in churches.
Popiełuszko's sermons were routinely broadcast by Radio Free Europe, and thus became famous throughout Poland for their uncompromising stance against the regime. The Służba Bezpieczeństwa tried to silence or intimidate him. When those techniques did not work, they fabricated evidence against him; he was arrested in 1983, but soon released on intervention of the clergy and pardoned by an amnesty.
A car accident was set up to kill Jerzy Popiełuszko on October 13th, 1984 but he evaded it. The alternative plan was to kidnap him; it was carried out on October 19th, 1984. The priest was beaten to death by three Security Police officers: Captain Grzegorz Piotrowski, Leszek Pękala, and Waldemar Chmielewski. They pretended to have problems with their car and flagged down Jerzy Popiełuszko's car for help. Jerzy Popiełuszko was severely beaten, tied up and put in the trunk of the car. The officers bound a stone to his feet and dropped him into the Vistula Water Reservoir near Włocławek from where his body was recovered on October 30th, 1984.
News of the political murder caused an uproar throughout Poland, and the murderers and one of their superiors, Colonel Adam Pietruszka, were convicted of the crime. More than 250,000 people, including Lech Wałęsa, attended his funeral on November 3rd, 1984. Despite the murder and its repercussions, the Communist regime remained in power until 1989. Popiełuszko's murderers – Captain Grzegorz Piotrowski, Leszek Pękala, Waldemar Chmielewski and Colonel Adam Pietruszka, responsible for giving the order to kill – were jailed but released later as part of an amnesty.
Popiełuszko was posthumously awarded the Order of the White Eagle, Poland's highest decoration, in 2009.