Nobel prize brings little peace for Walesa
As Danuta Walesa heads toward Olso to receive the Noble Peace Prize for her husband Saturday, Polish authorities continued their drive to denigrate the public standing of the former Solidarity leader.
Lech Walesa would naturally have preferred to collect the award himself. It was not clear, however, that the authorities have tried to block his return to Poland by forcing on him the kind of ''voluntary'' and ''temporary'' emigration offered Solidarity and other detainees in jail.
Polish officials have made no move nor said anything that might have contradicted his fears, but had dismissed his award as a politically motivated action against Poland and its interests. They have tried to belittle Walesa since the award was announced.
At a news conference Tuesday, a government spokesman lengthily derided Walesa's recent call on the United States to terminate its sanctions against Poland.
His call was indeed an about-face. Earlier he had adopted the underground militants' line of endorsing Western sanctions as a means of forcing concessions on the government - including a modified attitude toward the former union.
The spokesman dismissed Walesa's change of mind as a ''verbal convolution'' designed to restore his diminished popularity. He said the Polish public disapproved of Walesa's support for a foreign government's action which is so damaging to the country's and to individual Poles' well-being.
President Reagan's statement 24 hours later that the US will ''seriously study'' the Walesa proposal will undoubtedly fortify the official belief here - as suggested by the spokesman - that both Walesa and Washington now want only to ''save face'' because sanctions, though hurting Poland economically, have proved a political ''failure.''
The average Polish attitude toward Walesa and his prize have been rather ambivalent. For many people, above all workers in the big industries, he remains the major symbol of a union organization that the government is finding increasingly difficult to replace with its own.
But his political weight is not what it was. There was little more than the usual national pride when the Nobel committee's award to a Pole was announced, plus some special feeling because it was Solidarity's old founder and leader.
A sizable crowd is expected to gather in Gdansk Saturday evening for the mass which the Walesas' parish priest, the Rev. Henryk Jankowski, will conduct as accompaniment to the Oslo ceremony.
The service will take place in the Church of St. Brigida, where a ''Solidarity corner'' maintained since martial law - of photos, slogans and other memorabilia of the union's short heyday - has already brought Mr. Jankowski into conflict wizh the authorities.
He is one of three priests formally charged with ''abuses'' of religious freedom and misuse of their pulpits for political reasons.
Relations between the episcopate and the government are obviously strained. Meetings of a church-state commission are in abeyance and contacts between the two sides are much less active than before - most recently, it seems, because the church identified itself with the public outcry against drastic food-price increases scheduled for January.
And the church's planned agricultural development fund for the private farm sector - to be financed by donations from Roman Catholic churches in the West - has yet to get off the ground, though it is almost a year since it was first suggested.