Condemnation for Poland’s holocaust law: Catholic Church reacts

Condemnation from around the world over a new law on criminalising those who implicate Poland in responsibility for Holocaust crimes has drawn a strong response from a Polish archbishop.

Archbishop Waclaw Depo of Czestochowa says the new law’s critics are trying to “alter historical truth”.

The law imposes fines or up to three years’ jail for anyone who “publicly and against the facts attributes to the Polish nation or Polish state responsibility or co-responsibility for Nazi crimes”, or “flagrantly reduces in any way the responsibility of the real perpetrators”.

The law has been called “baseless” by Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu.

His view is echoed by the Jerusalem-based Yad Vashem Memorial Institute.

The Institute says the law would impede research and debate on the Holocaust.

Polish newspapers have said US officials have threatened to suspend joint military projects.

The newspapers say President Andrzej Duda and Premier Mateusz Morawiecki would not be received by President Donald Trump or other Administration members.

Archbishop Depo says the world has “turned away from the truth – not just truth about God, but also truth about us and about our history, turning us into executioners”.

“In reality, we’re a nation of sacrifice and suffering, which first felt the painful blows of the Second World War and then had them extended by years of Soviet occupation”.

The archbishop spoke after a conciliatory appeal by representatives of 6850 Poles honoured by Israel for saving Jewish lives under Nazi occupation – members of the Polish Association of Righteous Among Nations – was published in US, European and Israeli newspapers.

The Polish Association of Righteous Among Nations said hundreds of Poles had paid with their lives for showing “kindness and responsibility” to persecuted Jews, while other “ignoble Poles” had “acted on their own behalf” against Holocaust victims.

It urged Jews and Poles to continue building “an alliance and future” based on “friendship, solidarity and truth”, and also called for “empathy, judiciousness and thoughtfulness when creating laws”.

Controversy over the law had sparked a wave of anti-Jewish feeling and urged the country’s Bishops’ Conference to speak out, says Stanislaw Krajewski, a Warsaw University professor who co-chairs the Polish Council of Christians and Jews.

“Whatever the government intended, the anti-Jewish genie is out of the bottle again, and certain extremist groups seem to think they now have permission, thanks to recent signals, to say and do what they like.”


Additional reading

News category: World.

Tags: , , , ,