To Kill A Priest: The Murder of Father Popieluszko and the Fall of Communism by Kevin Ruane - review by Victory Sebestyen

Victory Sebestyen

A Modern Martyr

To Kill A Priest: The Murder of Father Popieluszko and the Fall of Communism



IN ALMOST EVERY town in Poland there is a statue of or a shrine to Jerzy Popieluszko, the priest who in 1984 was abducted by Polish secret police and beaten to death before his body was thrown into a reservoir near Warsaw. To Poles, 'Father Jerzy' is the pure symbol of the Solidarity movement and the nation's struggle against Soviet totalitarianism. While Lech Walesa, Poland's first freelv elected post-Communist leader, sullied his hands with politics Ad has become a deeply compromised figure, Popieluszko is on the fast track towards beatification by the Vatican. His grave is a place of pilgrimage for Catholics throughout Eastern Europe. In Poland there are innumerable books about Popieluszko, and a film about his life and martyrdom was released in 1988. This is the first book about the priest to appear in Britain and it contains new documentary evidence against the four men convicted of Popieluszko's murder. Its author, Kevin Ruane, was an excellent Moscow correspondent for the BBC in the late 1970s and its Eastern Europe correspondent for much of the 1980s. His dramatic reports about the rise of Solidarity, along with his cool and calm analysis of events, were a must for anyone who wanted to understand what was happening at that time in the Soviet bloc. However, in this book he tries too hard to make his case and fails to place the brutal killing of the priest in a wider context.

Popieluszko was a man of great courage who braved a state-sponsored campaign of lies and intimidation. He was a martyr in a political rather than a religious sense. He played a prominent part in Poland's fight for freedom and independence. Yet to argue that his death somehow played as significant

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