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Polish Philosopher Dies At 69

June 28, 2000

WARSAW, Poland (AP) _ Jozef Tischner, a respected Roman Catholic Church philosopher and a friend of Polish-born Pope John Paul II, died Wednesday in the southern city of Krakow. He was 69.

Tischner died in a Krakow hospital of cancer of the larynx, which he had suffered from for more than two years, said the Rev. Jan Zajac of the Krakow church administration.

Born March 12, 1931, in the city of Stary Sacz in Poland’s southern mountain region, Tischner had served as a priest in the Krakow area since 1956. Krakow was the home diocese of Cardinal Karol Wojtyla before he became Pope John Paul II in 1978.

Tischner studied philosophy at the renowned Jagiellonian University in Krakow, where Wojtyla and phenomenologist Roman Ingarden were among his teachers.

A philosophy professor specializing in man’s existential problems and the theory of values, Tischner had headed the Papal Theological Academy in Krakow since 1980. He also lectured at the Jagiellonian and the Theater School in the city.

He was known for his progressive religious views _ often seen as controversial among conservative church hierarchy _ and was a strong supporter of Poland’s Solidarity democracy movement in the 1980s.

Since the late 1950s, Tischner had written articles for the respected lay Catholic weekly Tygodnik Powszechny, which was at times the only opposition newspaper during Poland’s communist era.

The Krakow-based newspaper was the center of Poland’s intellectual elite, and its editorial staff included Wojtyla, considered one of its spiritual leaders. Tygodnik writers and editors regularly met at Wojtyla’s home at the Krakow Archbishop’s Palace.

When the communist regime imposed martial law in December 1981 in a bid to crush Solidarity, Tischner wrote ``The Ethics of Solidarity,″ a philosophical study of the anti-communist movement.

``This is very sad news,″ The Rev. Maciej Ziemba, a Dominican priest and Catholic intellectual, said of Tischner’s death.

``We are also losing someone who knew how to analyze and expose the daily reality in Poland _ with insight, synthetically, with a lot of sensitivity, ″ Ziemba said.

In ``The Unfortunate Gift of Freedom,″ published four years after Poland shook off communist rule in 1989, Tischner chided people who became dissatisfied with the rapid changes under way and who blamed them for various evils.

``When we talk about the threats of consumerism, we blame freedom; when we talk about abortion, we blame freedom; when we look for sources of pornography, we suspect freedom,″ he wrote. ``Perhaps I am wrong, but very often I can see that our fear of freedom is becoming bigger than our fear of violence.″

No details on family or funeral arrangements were immediately available.

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