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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Polish Clergy Call for Russia to Be Forgiven

KATYN, Smolensk Region — A senior Polish bishop said Saturday that Poland must forgive Russia for Soviet crimes in order to improve relations, speaking at a graveyard of more than 4,000 Polish officers killed by Josef Stalin’s army in 1940.

Russia and Poland are at loggerheads over Stalin’s actions in 1939, when he clinched a nonaggression pact with Nazi Germany that opened the way for the invasion of Poland and world war.

“The fate of those killed is already in the hands of God,” Tadeusz Ploski, a Catholic Polish army bishop, told a group of 250 prison guards visiting Katyn to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the start of War World II. “But … the victims of Katyn will not rest in peace as long as the wrong done to them evokes dark feelings in us, as long as true reconciliation with the Russian nation is not our genuine priority.”

Prime Ministers Vladimir Putin and Donald Tusk agreed Sept. 1 to offer historians reciprocal access to their nations’ archives and to set up joint groups of experts to study the Katyn case.

Polish Justice Minister Andrzej Czuma, who headed Saturday’s delegation to Katyn, said it was important to remember that, in terms of those killed, Russia was the biggest victim of the “satanic ideology” of communism.