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Poland And The Jews

Stefan Cardinal Wyszynski, a name out of the deep past, had been bishop of Lublin where my parents were born. I heard his name as a child when he became first archbishop and then cardinal of Warsaw. My parents, and my mother especially, had bad memories of Wyszynski with regard to the Jews. Yes, the old Polish thing about the Jews. But, when he was arrested and incarcerated by the Communists, they softened on him, maybe even admired him a bit. His case was quite different from that of Josef Cardinal Mindszenty of Hungary. He had actually been reasonably, demonstrably accused of war-time collaboration with the Nazis, especially with reference to the Jews. (After all, this was the time of Pius XII.) Still, when he played a heroic role in the resistance to Communism, liberal people also softened on him. Now, we have the case of Pope Benedict XVI designating as the archbishop of Warsaw one Stanislaw Wielgus. The Times's Craig R. Smith tells a fascinating and terrible narrative. You see, Wielgus had collaborated with the Communist regime, even as the Communists were persecuting the Catholic church, even as Catholic clerics were teaming up with Solidarity. Oops! Double oops! Documents are around to prove this, and they were not--as Wielgus claimed--benign and routine. On Sunday, the new archbishop went to Mass at Warsaw's St. John's Cathedral, more or less as the Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV went to Canossa to do penance before Pope Gregory VII, probably more "less" than "more," to announce that he would resign the archbishopric, to which retired Josef Cardinal Glemp reascended. Glemp, who had been one of Weilgus' supporters, had turned on him as had Benedict. But a large crown had gathered in and around the cathedral, a split crowd, "supporters and detractors," as Smith puts it. Scuffles broke out, and shouting. And, from Wielgus's admirers, screams that "the Jews" were trying to destroy the Church. Always the Jews! What infamies do they not commit! By the way, how many Jews are there in Poland to destroy the church? Estimates range from between 8,000 and 10,000, an insidious virus. But I've heard numbers as high as 25,000, yes, a very dangerous "fifth column." That old Polish thing about the Jews. Update: A similar story by Colin Nickerson in yesterday's Globe. But with one heavy addition: John Allen, a specialist on the Vatican with the US weekly National Catholic Reporter, recently wrote on their website that Tomasz Pompowski, an editor with Poland's influential newspaper Nowy Dziennik, commented that the newspaper had details of secret cooperation with the Communist regime by 20 current Polish bishops. Oops, again.