Polish church sacks priest over dialogue with Jewish community
JASIENICA, Poland, Aug 1 (Reuters) - When the outspoken Polish priest Wojciech Lemanski returned with his parishioners to his church near Warsaw after holding a prayer vigil at the Treblinka Nazi death camp in early July, a dismissal notice awaited him.I can't stand it when they stuff in that crap about "conservatives", as though refusal to come to terms with serious issues is just an ideological belief. That's one definite weakness within an otherwise interesting report, explaining just where Reuters really stands.
The Warsaw diocese of the Roman Catholic Church sacked Lemanski as parish priest in the small village of Jasienica for what it said was his insubordination after numerous clashes on issues such as in-vitro fertilisation, abortion and his engagement with the Jewish community.
Lemanski sealed his fate when in a radio interview he accused Archbishop Henryk Hoser, who oversees his parish, of asking whether he was a Jew and circumcised - a charge the diocese has denied.
The episode exposed a rift within the church, as it struggles to retain a central role in Polish life, between conservatives and those who want more openness in dealing with social issues and some of the darker episodes in Poland's past.
"At a time when Pope Francis is calling for open-mindedness, the church in Poland is crawling into its shell," said Iwona Jakubowska-Branicka, a sociologist at Warsaw University.I really appreciate this guy, and feel disgusted that the church in Poland would throw him out over this, signaling they're not very repentant.
"As with many moral issues, the question of relations with Jews has been swept under the carpet," she said.
Relations with the Jewish community are an especially difficult subject in Poland, where millions of Jews perished in the Holocaust during the Nazi German occupation of the country.
Most of those who survived were forced to leave in the late 1960s by the communist regime. Poland's post-communist leaders have condemned the "anti-Zionist campaign" of that time and have often spoken out against other signs of anti-Semitism.
Poles have celebrated those compatriots who helped to save local Jews in World War Two, but they have also downplayed events such as the burning of 340 Jews by Polish peasants in the village of Jedwabne in 1943.
The episode was buried by the communist authorities after the war and resurfaced only after a 2001 book written by Polish-born U.S. historian Jan Gross described the massacre.
The publication was criticised by some Catholic church leaders as stoking anti-Polish and anti-Jewish sentiments, but the subsequent debate inspired young Lemanski to work on improving the dialogue between the two groups.
"God knocked on my door and said he wanted something more from me. I can't imagine being a priest without a special sensitivity for the Jews, their tragedies and a need for dialogue," the priest said in an interview.
It's interesting how, despite Reuters's stance on "conservatism", they do acknowledge that the communist forces were anti-Jewish, as they were being by covering up the good done by sensible people in Poland and throwing out many of the Jewish residents in the 1960s. Regarding the Polish church, I'd say they have a lot of apologies to make, as they clearly still have a very long road to travel for redemption.