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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Polish Church Suspends Priest In Anti-Semitism Controversy

GDANSK, Poland -- The Roman Catholic church in Poland on Tuesday struggled to contain a row ensuing from remarks by the former chaplain of the Solidarity trade union movement suggesting Jews should be kept out of government.


Clearly embarrassed by the affair, the Polish church suspended Father Henryk Jankowski from his preaching for one year following his attack on the "Jewish minority," but said the priest was not anti-Semitic.


The decision to punish Jankowski, made by his immediate superior, Archbishop of Gdansk Tadeusz Goclowski, followed a speech by Pope John Paul II that strongly condemned Christians who are hostile toward Jews.


Speaking Friday to the closed-door symposium entitled "Roots of anti-Judaism in Christian circles," the pope said that "erroneous and unjust interpretations of the New Testament relating to the Jewish people and their presumed guilt [in crucifying Christ] circulated too long, engendering sentiments of hostility toward these people."


In its conclusions the symposium added that anti-Semitism among Christians offends God and the Church.


In this context, it was inevitable that Jankowski would receive some kind of sanction after his sermon at the end of October in which he opposed "the presence of the Jewish minority" in the new government.


Back in Poland, Goclowski will continue his efforts to convince the public that the priest of Saint Brigitte is not anti-Semitic in spite of repeated anti-Semitic statements and that he had been sufficiently punished for meddling in politics.


In Polish political and religious circles, it is considered that the relatively lenient treatment of Jankowski is linked to his popularity among radical Catholic members of Solidarity.


Jankowski soared into the public eye in 1980 when he held open-air masses for striking shipyard workers in Gdansk.