By Vatican News
Before his weekly General Audience on Wednesday, Pope Francis addressed leaders from the Polish Trade Union Solidarity (Solidarnosc), in the Paul VI Hall.
The movement was founded by Lech Walesa and others in 1980 at the former Lenin Shipyards in Gdańsk, becoming the first independent labour union in a Soviet bloc country.
The Pope recalled that through the 1980’s it had been the protagonist of political and social changes in Poland and has also played an inspiring role beyond the country’s borders.
“I congratulate you”, said Pope Francis, “on your service for the common good”, adding that, “the sincere search that individuals and groups make for good, truth and justice is always accompanied by the presence of God.”
“Forty years ago”, he continued, “Saint John Paul II invoked for his fellow countrymen this very presence of God and the breath of the Holy Spirit, exclaiming: "Let your Spirit come down! And renew the face of the earth. Of this land!".
The Pontiff told those present that “a sign of openness to the Spirit of God is the attitude of solidarity with people deprived of their inalienable rights, solidarity that takes place in the fields of work and study, in social, economic, political and international relations.”
Solidarity, he said, “is a sensitivity to the voice of brothers and sisters who have been deprived of the right to decent working conditions, to the just reward necessary to support the family, to health care or to rest.”
The Pope noted that “the condition for positive changes in social structures is above all a change in mentality, convictions and attitudes, to which the younger generations must be educated.”
Otherwise, he said, “sooner or later, new structures themselves will no longer serve the common good, but particular groups, and will become corrupt, heavy and ineffective, and even harmful.
Concluding his greeting, and invoking the intercession of the Mother of God, Queen of Poland, he prayed for the fruitful perseverance of their work of assistance and support.