Blessed John Paul II is often credited with helping defeat Communism, but there is also another priest, who confronted Communism. Blessed Father Jerzy Popieluszko, was the courageous chaplain of the Solidarity movement in Poland in the early 1980’s, and it was his strong faith, conviction and courage that mobilized a nation to stand against the communist regime there. The remarkable story of Father Jerzy, a 21st century hero of human rights who was murdered is 1984 by the Polish government, is told in the award-winning documentary Messenger of the Truth.
Narrated by Catholic activist and actor Martin Sheen, Messenger of the Truth chronicles Father Jerzy’s opposition to Poland’s oppressive Communist leaders, who harassed, arrested, threatened, imprisoned and, eventually, murdered him for speaking the truth in a country full of propaganda, oppression and social injustice.
At Fr. Jerzy’s funeral, an estimated 1 million people surrounded his church in Warsaw and promised to continue his struggle for freedom through non-violence. Blessed Pope John Paul II, a son of Poland and advocate for the end of communism in his country and around the world, admired Fr. Jerzy’s courageous stand for freedom and truth. In 1987, shortly before the fall of communism in Poland, Pope John Paul II prayed at his gravesite in a remarkable sign of his support for the young priest’s life and death. Fr. Jerzy was beatified on June 6, 2010, in Warsaw and is expected to be canonized in the near future.
As I watched this film, I was in awe of this young priest’s religious convictions and his ability to uphold the truth in the most threatening of circumstances. This is definitely not a feel-good movie, but is an inspiring film, which contains a message of courage and strength to all who view it. There is one word that comes to mind when I think of this film and that is “powerful.” It is a must-see documentary for those who uphold religious rights and freedom. I highly recommend it.