Archbishop Tadeusz Goclowski CM, retired Metropolitan of Gdansk was awarded the Order of the White Eagle, highest Polish state decoration by the Bronislaw Komorowski, President of the Republic of Poland, during the special ceremony in the Presidential Palace in Warsaw, Poland on November 10, day before Polish National Independence Day. Another two awarded today, Zbigniew Romaszewski and Andrzej Wielowieyski are long time Senators and distinguished Solidarity movement leaders who “fought for the freedom of Poland”, as Mr. Komorowski said, and “persisted in challenging conditions at the values, the beliefs that were then sentenced to death, to oblivion.” Msgr Goclowski is known for his strong support for the Solidarity movement and Poland’s struggle for freedom during all the years as archbishop of Gdansk.
Archbishop Goclowski [pronounced: Goh-tzlov-skee] was honored “in recognition of distinguished merits to the Republic of Poland, especially in public and social life, as an advocate of democratic change in the country and his achievements in the work for reconciliation between people.” – President praised him giving reasons for the award.
Mr. Komorowski continued addressing Msgr Goclowski: “The Church in Poland was one of the most important strongholds of our national freedom. In addition to the gratitude of a personal nature, there is a great binding gratitude to the entire structure, which was, and hopefully I would like it to continue, a stronghold of Polish freedom, and wisdom… It is also a good moment to say that recalling Polish Church as a stronghold of freedom is one of the foundations where a special atmosphere was built, the special relationship between church and state which is not based on cool calculation, but on the principle of separation of church and state, however as friendly separation.” In conclusion, the President of Poland gratefully added: “honoring you Archbishop for this foundation of Polish democracy and freedom, I give thanks to the entire Polish Church” and added his wish that “he would like this foundation, which often is shown limits and circuvents, to be continued with benefits for the Polish state.”
The Order of the White Eagle is the highest and oldest Polish state decoration which civilians and military, Poles and foreigners are awarded in recognition of their special merits. It was instituted on November 1, 1705 by king Augustus II the Strong. After 3rd partition of Poland in 1795 he was stopped to be given. Restored in 1807 when the Duchy of Warsaw was created and continued during the Kingdom of Poland under Russian administration until the October Revolution in 1917. In 1921 recognized by the Polish Parliament (Sejm) as highest national decoration and awarded until 1939 when the WWII broke up. After 1948 it was no longer used in Poland but rarely it was awarded by the Polish Government in Exile (in London). Finally, it was reinstated in 1992 when the seal, insignia and archives of the Order where handed to President of Poland Lech Walesa. The first person to be awarded the Order of White Eagle after its reinstatement was Blessed Pope John Paul II. The President of Poland is always the Grand Master of the Order. [Go to Wikipedia entry to read more about the Order]