Pope Francis salutes Poland's Solidarity Union during General Audience

Pope Francis salutes Poland's Solidarity Union during General Audience Fabio Frustaci/PAP/EPA

Pope Francis marked the 40th anniversary of the founding of Poland's Solidarity union during Wednesday's general audience in the Vatican, the first in six months with the participation of the faithful.

According to the pope, the signing of the 1980 August Agreements between protesting workers and Poland's communist government, which led to the union's official inception, "gave rise to political changes in Poland and in Europe."

"Dear brothers and sisters, in recent days Poland was celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Agreements, which, as a result of the solidarity of the oppressed, gave rise to the Solidarity Trade Union and historical political changes in your country and in Central Europe ", the pope said addressing Poles during an audience in the courtyard of St Damasius.

He added that solidarity is now the path that must be taken towards the post-pandemic world, towards healing from diseases in interpersonal and social relations.

In August 1980, Poland's then communist authorities signed two agreements with protesting workers. The first was signed in Szczecin, north-western Poland, on August 30, and the second one in Gdansk, northern Poland, on August 31. The so-called August Agreements led to the birth of Solidarity, the first free and independent trade union in a communist country. They also marked the beginning of changes of 1989, namely, the fall of communism and the end of the Yalta division of Europe.