WARSAW — Calling the economic situation "exceptionally difficult and dangerous," Poland's Roman Catholic bishops Sunday urged the people to unite with the government to pull the country out of its crisis.
In a communique after a two-day meeting, the bishops referred to the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council stating that economic progress comes from individual and group initiative as well as political leadership.
"The . . . indications of the Vatican Council gain special significance and actuality today, when our country is in a sociopolitical situation that is exceptionally difficult and dangerous for its future," the three-page communique said.
"We can master and overcome this situation only through our common effort and no one should shun participating in it," the statement said.
Polish authorities last month announced an economic restructuring program that could result in drastic price boosts next year and, if fully implemented, would even surpass market-oriented reforms under way on the Soviet Union.
The government announced a referendum Nov. 29 to ask Poles to approve the program, plus unspecified moves toward "democratization" that would lift some restrictions on freedom of speech and association.
The powerful Polish church, under Cardinal Josef Glemp, has tried to avoid confrontation with authorities on political issues.
But at the same time it has called for greater participation in civic affairs by the population, which is 95% Catholic and has become apathetic since martial law was imposed in December, 1981, to suppress the Solidarity trade union movement and the concessions it had won from authorities.
While not directly advocating freedom of speech and association, the bishops made it clear by their reference to the Vatican Council statement that they believe these changes must accompany the economic austerity program.