Stefan Wyszyński and Elżbieta Róża Czacka beatified in Poland

September 20, 2021
(Photo used via Creative Commons license / KEP)

Two revered figures of the Polish Catholic Church were beatified on September 12—a cardinal who led the Polish church’s re­sistance to communism and a blind nun who devoted her life to helping others who couldn’t see.

In a time of growing secularization and societal divisions, the celebration of Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński and Mother Elżbieta Róża Czacka was a reminder of the moral authority and the unifying power the church once held over Poland.

Wyszyński was Po­land’s primate, or top church leader, from 1948 until his death in 1981. He was under house arrest in the 1950s for his re­fusal to bend to the communist regime and was considered by some to be the true leader of the nation. His long resistance to communism is credited as a factor that led to the election of a Polish pope, John Paul II, and ultimately to the toppling of Poland’s communist system in 1989.

Czacka, born in 1876 to an aristocratic family, went blind as a young woman and devoted the rest of her life to helping others. The Franciscan nun helped develop a Polish version of braille and opened a center for the blind near Warsaw.

The beatification ceremony came after the Holy See punished some ten Polish bishops and archbishops over reported cover-ups of sexual abuse of minors by priests under their authority. The revelations of clerical abuse and cover-ups have been pushing some Poles away from the church and leading some to take their children out of religion classes in schools. —Associated Press