Today in Catholic History – Solidarity victorious in Polish elections

On 4 June 1989, the Polish trade union Solidarity was victorious in the first relatively free elections in Poland since the Second World War. Despite pre-election polls which predicted a victory for the Communist Party, Solidarity was successful in virtually every seat which it had contested.

Solidarity is deeply rooted in Catholic teaching and history. Pope John Paul II put forward the concept of solidarity with the poor as an essential element of the Christian life in his Solicitudo Rei Socialis. One of the founders of Solidarity, Lech Wałęsa, confirmed the influence of Pope John Paul II saying, “The Holy Father, through his meetings, demonstrated how numerous we were. He told us not to be afraid”. One of the priests which was actively involved in Solidarity was Father Jerzy Popiełuszko who was killed by the Communist leadership in Poland because of his ministry to workers and will be beatified by the Catholic Church on 6 June 2010.

The success of Solidarity in Poland will inspire similar movements elsewhere and contribute to the eventual collapse of communism in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union.

The home page of Solidarity

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