(C) Reuters, June 21, 1995
Vatican upbraids Polish priest for anti-Semitic remarks
NEW YORK, June 21 (Reuter) – A Vatican official said a
Polish priest close to President Lech Walesa “strayed in his
preaching” by making apparent anti-Semitic remarks at a mass
attended earlier this month by Poland’s president.
Father Remi Hoechman, the secretary of the Vatican
Commission for Relations with the Jews, said in a letter
released in New York on Wednesday that the Vatican immediately
contacted Polish church officials after Father Henryk Jankowski
equated the Jewish star of David with the Nazi swastika and the
Communist hammer and sickle.
Hoechman, in a letter to Leon Feldman of the World Jewish
Congress’s Interfaith Commission, said that Jankowski “strayed
in his preaching from the proper representation of Jews and
Judaism in the proclamation of the word of God.”
Jankowski also had urged Poles to keep people who secretly
owe allegiance to Israel or Russia out of their governments.
Hoechman said the Vatican approved of the swift action that
Polish Catholic officials took in distancing themselves from the
priest’s remarks and quoted approvingly of one Catholic writer’s
comment that, “for a Catholic priest so to use the pulpit of a
Catholic parish during mass is an abuse and an outrage.”
He made no comment in the letter of the criticism that
Walesa has received for staying silent about the remarks.
Walesa initially declined to comment, then appeared to
defend the controversial priest, once his close ally in the
Solidarity movement’s battle against Communist rule during the
Spokesmen for Poland’s several thousand Jews expressed
concern when Walesa did not quickly distance himself from the
But in a statement on Tuesday, Walesa said the sermon had
aroused public unease over Polish-Jewish relations and added
that anti-Semitism was despicable and he would never tolerate