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Tuesday, November 4, 1997 Published at 09:09 GMT

Despatches: Europe
Sanchia Berg
From Poland

The Polish Catholic church has suspended a leading priest after he made anti-semitic remarks. Father Henryk Jankowski said in his sermon eight days ago there was no place for Jews in the Polish government. From Warsaw, our correspondent Sanchia Berg reports:-

"This is stern punishment from the Roman Catholic church in Poland. Observers say it's the first time a priest has been suspended for anti-semitic remarks. Just over a week ago Father Henryk Jankowski said, from his pulpit in the city of Gdansk, that he could not accept the Jewish minority in the government. He was referring to the foreign minister in the solidarity coalition. Father Jankowski has been nicknamed "the Solidarity priest". Close to the trade union since its creation, he was once Lech Walesa's confessor. Yet the new government was quick to distance itself from his comments. Now he has been suspended from his church post for a year. His archbishop said Father Jankowski had ignored earlier warnings about anti-semitism. Though the government spokesman said the ban was expected, it has been warmly welcomed by Poland's small Jewish community. One rabbi said it was a bold move towards tolerance and reconciliation. "All we can do is applaud", he said. But another leading figure noted that after Father Jankowski's sermon, skinheads in Gdansk had attacked a young Jewish boy shouting anti-semitic insults. He said "they had to do something after that".

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