Bl. Jerzy Popieluszko spoke out against mass media censorship in communist Poland and was killed for his opposition.
In 1946, the Central Office for the Control of the Press, Publications and Spectacles was established in Poland, ensuring that the communist regime was viewed favorably, monitoring the publication of all mass media.
Every piece of mass communication was monitored by censors. and if it didn’t match-up with communist beliefs, it was “corrected.”
This type of media censorship endured for many decades in Poland, but it met a tipping point during the 1980s. An influential Polish priest, Fr. Jerzy Popieluszko, became very vocal about access to the truth. His homilies drew large crowds, while also being broadcast over Radio Free Europe.
He fought back against the communist regime and promoted non-violent means of opposition.
Many rallied to his call, and his example became a central catalyst to the downfall of communism in Poland a few short years later.
However, his vocal opposition to the Party line came with a price. Fr. Jerzy Popieluszko was murdered by the Secret Police on October 19, 1984. His murder provoked an even greater outcry and further revealed the declining influence of communism in Poland.
His death eventually gained him the title of martyr, killed in defense of the truth.
Pope Benedict XVI praised his beatification in 2010.
Another figure I wish to remember: Fr Jerzy Popiełuszko, a priest and martyr who was proclaimed Blessed in Warsaw precisely last Sunday. He exercised his generous and courageous ministry beside all those who were working for freedom, for the defense of life and for its dignity. His work at the service of goodness and truth was a sign of contradiction for the regime governing Poland at the time. Love of the Heart of Christ led him to give his life and his witness was the seed of a new springtime in the Church and in society.
Bl. Jerzy Popieluszko reminds us of the importance of the truth and the value of freedom in mass media.