Anti-Semitic Polish cardinal dies

Polish Roman Catholic Cardinal Joseph Glemp died on January 23, 2013.

The New York Times’ report on his death reviewed his history of anti-Semitism.

What he did and said caused great harm to relations between Slavic and Jewish Poles and between Poles and the world community. That damage lingers to this day.

Both the tiny Polish Jewish community that survived WWII and the Holocaust and the Jewish community worldwide needed thoughtfulness, compassion,  and  support from Polish leaders.

Instead he continued to make anti-Semitic statements and engage in antisemitic behavior. On issues that required the most sensitive of words, he repeatedly chose harsh anti-Semitic language.

He harmed efforts for post-WWII reconciliation between Slavic and Jewish Poles.

He disgraced the memory and service of the great number of Poles who paid with their lives fighting the Nazis and rescuing their Jewish friends, neighbors, and fellow citizens of Poland from the Nazis.

His anti-Semitism adds to the confusion that lingers to this day that because the Nazi death camps were geographically located in Poland, they were “Polish” rather than forcibly  imposed on conquered Poland by the Nazi occupiers.

In order to help ensure that his anti-Semitism is forever attached to his legacy I am sharing  The New York Times account of it:

Cardinal Glemp was repeatedly accused of anti-Semitism, notably for his 1989 remarks resisting an agreement to move a Carmelite convent from Auschwitz, where millions of Jews were killed by the Nazis. After Jews complained, the Vatican agreed in 1987 to put the convent in a nearby interfaith center. But as a deadline passed and Jews staged protests, the cardinal went on the offensive, saying:

“Do you, esteemed Jews, not see that your pronouncements against the nuns offend the feelings of all Poles, and our sovereignty, which has been achieved with such difficulty? Your power lies in the mass media that are easily at your disposal in many countries. Let them not serve to spread anti-Polish feeling.” He added, “Dear Jews, do not talk with us from the position of a people raised above all others, and do not dictate conditions that are impossible to fulfill.”

The ensuing firestorm reignited old controversies in a largely rural land where the prewar Jewish population of 3.5 million had dwindled to a few thousand. But the cardinal did not back down until the Vatican reaffirmed the pope’s determination to move the convent. The issue resurfaced in 1991, when Cardinal Glemp, touring the United States, encountered more protests and told Jewish leaders that he regretted the pain his statements had caused.

In 1997, Cardinal Glemp belatedly rebuked a rabidly anti-Semitic radio station, Radio Maryja, and the Rev. Tadeusz Rydzyk, who mingled daily outpourings of hate with prayer. The cardinal acted only after Vatican hints and a prosecutor’s slander charges.

In 2001, Cardinal Glemp was again accused of anti-Semitism when he refused to accompany President Kwasniewski to the village of Jedwabne to apologize for the 1941 massacre of 1,600 Jews, most of them burned alive in a barn by Polish neighbors. The cardinal disavowed “ostentatious penance” in advance, and said, “I prefer not to have politicians impose on the Church the way it is to fulfill its act of contrition for the crimes committed by certain groups of people.”

From Cardinal Jozef Glemp of Poland Is Dead at 83 By ROBERT D. McFADDEN, The New York Times, January 23, 2013

Previous related posts:

Warsaw Ghetto prisoners liberated during second Warsaw Uprising

Documentary “Jews in the Warsaw Rising 1944″

67th Anniversary of the liberation of Dachau

For more information:

Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center

Virginia Holocaust Museum


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