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Papal Trip Draws To Close In Heavily Polish Detroit Enclave

September 19, 1987

DETROIT (AP) _ Speaking in Polish today in a community filled with reminders of his native land, Pope John Paul II invoked the name of the Solidarity labor movement as a model for the world.

A smaller than expected crowd stood in a light drizzle as the pontiff spoke before a large painting of Our Lady of Czestochowa, an icon revered in Poland as a protector of the nation.

Detroit police at first estimated that 20,000 to 30,000 heard the speech, then raised that to a maximum of 40,000, in contrast to organizers’ hopes of 300,000. Hamtramck Police Officer Chris Garon said about 150,000 people in all were along the parade route and at the speech.

In downtown Hart Plaza, where the pope spoke on social justice, the crowd appeared to fall far short of the hoped-for 250,000, but police offered no figures.

In Hamtramck, the pope recalled his visit to Poland earlier this year and how he had spoken of Solidarity, the labor movement which was banned under martial law.

″In the name of man’s future and the future of humanity, it was necessary to say that word, solidarity,″ the pope said, repeating remarks he had made in Gdynia in June.

″Today it rolls like a wide wave over the face of the world which realizes that we cannot live according to the principle of ‘all against all’ but according to another principle, ‘all with all, all for all.’ Solidarity must take precedence over conflict, only then can humanity survive, can each nmation survive and develop within the great human family,″ he said.

Part of the pope’s speech was brief greeting to Ukrainian-Americans in their language, saluting the 1,000th year in the Ukraine ″from the depths of my Slavic heart.″

He said he saw today as ″a meeting with the American Polonia with every American man and woman whose origin is drawn from the old country on the Vistula, with every Pole whose destiny it is to live in this land.″

The Polish-born pope’s visit to Hamtramck - an enclave of 21,000 souls, about half of them with Polish roots - began a busy day which included a meeting with deacons and an address on social justice in the center of Detroit, which was torn by rioting two decades ago.

John Paul told deacons that their calling to the church was also a calling to work for social change.

The task is seldom an easy one. The truth about ourselves and the world, revealed in the Gospel, is not always what the world wants to hear,″ he told deacons and their wives. ″Gospel truth often contradicts commonly accepted thinking, as we see so clearly today with regard to evils such as racism, contraception, abortion, and euthanasia - to name just a few.″

At Hart Plaza, where the pope could be seen from the streets of Detroit as well as from the Canadian side of the Detroit River, John Paul challenged Americans to ″discover the poor in your midst.″

″There is poverty among you when the old and the weak are neglected and their standard of living constantly declines. There is poverty when illness takes away the wage earner from a family,″ he said.

″There is material need and suffering in those areas or groups where unemployment risks becoming endemic. There is poverty in the future of those that cannot enjoy the benefits of basic education.″

Solutions to domestic problems, he added, must not ignore the impact on the rest of the world. ″The continuing existence of millions of people who suffer hunger or malnutrition and the growing realization that the natural resources are limited make clear that humanity forms a single whole,″ the pope said.

The day ends with the last major event of the pope’s United States tour, a Mass at the Pontiac Silverdome. More than 90,000 were expected, including Vice President George Bush. The pope then leaves for a short stop in western Canada, where he will meet Indian elders and say Mass in a giant tepee before returning to Rome.

Following a parade past kielbasa shops and Polish bakeries on streets lined with Polish and American flags, the pope was to speak in Polish to the thousands who began to pour into Hamtramck on Thursday.

The pope had been there before, though he wasn’t pope at the time. In 1969, Cardinal Karol Wojtyla visited the city, and today a statue of John Paul II commemorates that occasion.

Funeral director Leonard Orlikowski has a memory, too - of a poker game with the future pope.

A priest with whom the cardinal was staying introduced them, Orlikowski said. ″I played cards with the guy,″ he recalled. ″We smoked cigars.″

What he did not remember was who won, and how much.

In his first address in Detroit, the pontiff told welcomers at Detroit’s Blessed Sacrament Cathedral on Friday night, ″Yours is a mission that unfolds amid the social, cultural and economic forces that shape the life of the great metropolis of Detroit - forces that also raise questions of fundamental importance for the future of humanity.″

Earlier in the day, in San Francisco, the pope celebrated Mass in Candlestick Park and met with 3,000 lay men and women.

Like the rest of his stay in San Francisco - which was marked by his tour’s largest and loudest demonstrations by Jews, homosexuals and feminists - the meeting with the lay people displayed the tensions in the Catholic Church.

Donna Hanson, a church worker from Spokane, Wash., urged the pope to give Catholics a greater voice in the church and to reach out to homosexuals, the divorced and women.

″Though I know the church is not a democracy ruled by popular vote, I expect to be treated as a mature, educated and responsible adult,″ Ms. Hanson told the pope.

″Not to question, not to challenge, not to have authorities involve me in a process of understanding, is to deny my dignity as a person and the rights granted to me both by church and society,″ she said.

She added that the American church must face American diversity. ″Can we reach out and be more inclusive of women, our inactive clergy, homosexuals, the divorced and all people of color?″ she asked.

The pope, in his prepared response, did not directly address the issues raised by Ms. Hanson. He praised women and called for ″their fuller participation″ in the church’s life, ″regardless of the role they perform.″

The pope also called on the laity to fulfill their obligation to marry and have children, and he reiterated that those who divorce and remarry may not receive the sacraments.

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