WARSAW, Poland (AP) - More than 700 people in Poland, including a former prime minister and foreign minister, signed an open letter condemning statements about Jews by a right-wing Roman Catholic priest who runs a controversial radio station.The full text of the letter can be found here; you can view the complete list of signitaries at Centre of Culture and Dialogue (via Bill Cork).
A magazine had reported that Rev. Tadeusz Rydzyk, during a lecture earlier this year at a journalism school, described Jews as greedy and criticized President Lech Kaczynski for donating land in Warsaw for a Jewish museum.
Hundreds of people - including former Prime Minister Tadeusz Mazowiecki and former Auschwitz inmate and Foreign Minister Wladyslaw Bartoszewski - signed the letter, saying Rydzyk's comments "revealed his contempt" for Jews and fellow Christians.
"As Polish Catholics, laymen and clergy, we express our moral protest against the worsening statements of the director of Radio Maryja," the letter says. "It hurts us that the contemptible and anti-Semitic statements come from a representative of our church."
Earlier this month, the Simon Weisenthal Center petitioned for Rydzyk's removal after describing Polish president Lech Kaczynski, a "swindler" who had bowed to pressure from the Jewish lobby to compensate people for property lost during and after World War II:
"You know that it's about giving $65bn," to the Jews, he allegedly said. "They will come to you and say 'give me your coat. Take off your pants. Give me your shoes'," the magazine reported.In May 2006, Pope Benedict XVI asked Polish Catholic leaders to reign in Rev. Rydzyk; however, this may be easier said than done (Papal Reprimand for Catholic Radio Der Spiegel May 2, 2006):
Under the Polish Pope John Paul II, the Vatican released lukewarm warnings to Radio Maryja about "self-restraint." But the German Pope Benedict XVI has stepped up efforts to control the intolerant rhetoric. Through his envoys he's let it be known that political engagement by priests is not sanctioned by Rome -- and this counts as a "serious warning" to Radio Maryja.According to Catholic World News, Rydzyk "has denied charges that he made anti-Semitic statements, and his religious superior has backed his statement." (Polish priest rejects charge of anti-Semitism July 23, 2007).
But the Polish national clergy can't just force Father Rydzyk into line. The 60-year-old priest belongs to the Order of Redemptorists, a missionary movement that stands outside the church's traditional power structure in Poland.
(Via Liz at Christian Attitudes to To Jews, Israel and Zionism).