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Tags: poland | catholic church | pope john paul ii

Do Your Research Before Judging Poland's Catholic Church

Do Your Research Before Judging Poland's Catholic Church
Pope John Paul II (Getty Images)

Marek Jan Chodakiewicz By Monday, 03 April 2023 01:51 PM EDT Current | Bio | Archive

A scandal erupted in Poland when liberal and post-Communist media accused late Pope St. John Paul II/Karol Wojtyła of aiding, abetting, and covering up for pedophilic Catholic priests even before he became the bishop of Rome. Outraged, the center-right dominated Polish parliament passed a law in defense of the late Pontiff, thus making this an anti-left touchstone issue in the upcoming national elections this fall.

The scandal resembles similar developments in the Catholic Church in the U.S., Canada, Ireland, and elsewhere. But there is also an important difference: Many scholars and journalists in Poland actually dare to verify the accusations, stressing a novel idea that one is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Further, the mechanisms of the scandal remind one of the old Soviet KGB’s “active measures” (aktivnye meropriatia), political warfare entailing all sort of monkey business to destroy an individual — short of violence.

Rumanian Communist secret police highest ranking defector Ion Mihai Pacepa wrote about this extensively, singling out KGB General Ivan Agayants as the chief architect of the provocations against the Catholic Church. The Germans call it Rufmord — character assassination, besmirching.

In this particular anti-Church case, first, a Dutch progressive journalist Ekke Overbeek sloppily slapped together his deeply flawed Maxima Culpa: John Paul II Knew. As far as the book’s acidic spirit, the author channeled the radically anti-Christian French activist Frédéric Martel, who had written a similarly disgusting account of an allegedly “gay Vatican.”

Overbeek based his account almost entirely on unskilled reading of Communist secret police documents. The author examined barely four files on pedophilic priests, at least one of whom was probably not a child rapist, and two were definitely secret police informers, out to get their superiors and to ingratiate themselves with their security service handlers. That was enough for the Dutch journalist to find Wojtyla guilty.

In addition, Overbeek besmirched Father Wojtyła’s mentor, Cardinal Stefan Sapieha, mendaciously charging that the prelate, while in his '80s and without Viagra, was supposed to have molested seminarians in Cracow as per an unreliable snitch and a most likely falsified secret police report.

Working independently on a much broader archival scale, two Polish journalists, Piotr Litka and Tomasz Krzyżak, of the highly respected centrist daily Rzeczpospolita (Republic) debunked most of the claims, and clarified others.

According to the two journalists, the evidence absolutely disallows levying such irresponsible charges against John Paul II and his mentor. For instance, the accusations against Sapieha were most likely falsified by a secret policeman who wanted to help his career.

A parade of historians and other experts, who specialize in Communist secret police terror apparatus and its methods, likewise registered their dismay with the methodology of the progressive pundits and “scholars,” as well skepticism to the charges of abetting and hiding pedophiles in the Catholic Church.

The Netherlands’ top Poland expert, Dierdik Wienen, who speaks the language and knows the culture well, agrees: "Overbeek seems not to understand the situation of the Polish Church under communism." To call this lost in translation is an understatement.

To add insult to injury, right before the release of Overbeek’s scurrilous book, Warner Brothers/Discovery-owned TVN 24 station screened a scandalous documentary that essentially repeated the same allegations against the Polish Pope.

It is important to know that decades ago TVN-24 was set up by people connected to the Communist military intelligence (WSI, an adjunct of the GRU). Later, the station was sold to the Americans. The new leadership, alas, retained much of the original personnel.

Incidentally, The Washington Post complained that following the screening of the anti-Karol Wojtyła film the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs called in the American ambassador, Mark Brzezinski, who was nominated by Joe Biden. TVN 24 is a private company, you see, that has nothing to do with the U.S. government. Silly Poles!

However, The Washington Post did not object when the previous Trump-appointed Ambassador lobbied on behalf of Warner/Discovery after the station’s license to broadcast had expired and the populist center-left Law and Justice government briefly mulled over not renewing the permit to operate for what it considers a nest of post-GRU vipers.

Clergy abuse is old news on this side of the pond. For a while now America’s public space has been deluged with reports about sexual scandals, including most horrifically pedophilia, in the Catholic Church. Unfortunately, however, the record shows that other Christian denominations and even other confessions in the U.S., and for that matter our general male population, show a similar and proportional pathology.

At the same time, we should avoid mirror imaging and projecting the crimes of pedophilia in America onto Poland, where the Catholic culture is different but also the conditions under the Soviet and Communist occupation vastly varied from what obtains here.

Much more research is needed before we can start understanding this sordid aspect of Poland’s Catholic Church’s otherwise brilliant history. But it must be done as soon as possible.

As John Paul II used to say: “Fear not!” And the pro-papal polls bear it out for the most part, active measures or not.

Marek Jan Chodakiewicz is Professor of History at the Institute of World Politics, a graduate school of statecraft in Washington, D.C.; expert on East-Central Europe's Three Seas region; author, among others, of "Intermarium: The Land Between the Baltic and Black Seas." Read Marek Jan Chodakiewicz's Reports — More Here.

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A scandal erupted in Poland when liberal and post-Communist media accused late Pope St. John Paul II/Karol Wojtyła of aiding, abetting, and covering up for pedophilic Catholic priests even before he became the bishop of Rome.
poland, catholic church, pope john paul ii
Monday, 03 April 2023 01:51 PM
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