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Church in Poland Scraps Its Plan to Funnel Western Aid

September 03, 1986|United Press International

WARSAW — The Roman Catholic Church today said the Communist government "dictatorship" had forced it to scrap plans for a foundation to funnel millions of dollars in Western aid to modernize Polish agriculture.

In a strongly worded statement, the church said the small-scale Marshall Plan for the predominantly Catholic nation was not implemented because of government interference.

First conceived four years ago by Cardinal Jozef Glemp, the idea was to establish a foundation with Western funds for 10 projects to modernize Polish farming under church management.

It had been expected that dioceses in the United States and Europe and the European Common Market would contribute about $200 million after implementation of a pilot program. About $28 million has been received from the United States and Western Europe.

But the church said four years of negotiations with the government reached an impasse because of a government requirement that the foundation be overseen by Agriculture Minister Stanislaw Ziemba, a member of the Communist Party Central Committee.

"That would mean a dictatorship on the part of the state administration and would contradict the idea of the foundation, and especially its autonomy," the church said.

'A Deplorable Fact'

"It is a deplorable fact that the idea of the foundation--which was supposed to be the plank for international aid and cooperation including people of various political persuasions at home--failed to be implemented," the statement said.

Catholic sources likened the foundation to a small-scale version of the post-World War II Marshall Plan for European recovery but recalled that Poland, under pressure from Moscow, rejected Marshall Plan aid even though the nation was in ruins.

Maria Stolzamn, a secretary of the foundation organizing committee, said the government could have blocked the foundation after good weather in the last three seasons helped produce good crops.

Declining comment on its impact on church-state relations, she said Glemp has talked to members of the committee and has not yet told them to disband.

'Other Ways of Helping'

"We shall be (in the foundation headquarters) till the end of September and then we shall try to find other ways of helping Polish agriculture," she said, referring to the $28 million already received.

The church had previously yielded to government pressure not to accept the prize money of $180,000 donated by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Lech Walesa, who founded the Solidarity labor union.

"The collapse of the foundation is a personal defeat for Cardinal Glemp, who believed in constructive cooperation with the Communists for the good of Poland," a priest who asked not to be identified said.

Another member of the foundation committee said: "A good manager takes money even from a devil, but not the Communists. Ideology is more important than money."

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