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Tuesday, 1 October, 2002, 10:15 GMT 11:15 UK
Polish Cardinal tackles radical radio

A decree banning the offices of a radical Catholic radio station from operating in the Polish capital, Warsaw, has come into effect.

The decree was issued by the head of the Polish Catholic Church, Cardinal Jozef Glemp, and will restrict the station from raising funds.

It is being seen as an attempt by the church to end the growing influence of radical Catholicism in Poland.

Radio Maryja is one of the success stories of post- communist Poland. Founded by Father Tadeusz Rydzyk, the station began broadcasting nationwide in 1993.

Pope John Paul II arrives to Krakow in August 2002
Pope John Paul urged the Poles to strengthen links with Europe
It says it is now listened to by well over 10% of adult Poles.

But as well as being successful, it is controversial.

Its mixture of prayers, masses and hymns is underpinned by Polish nationalism and strong opposition to the European Union.

Xenophobia

It also has strong connections with a right-wing Catholic political party, the League of Polish Families, which has 38 seats in the country's parliament.

Critics say both the radio station and party cross the line into xenophobia and anti-Semitism.

Radio Maryja's extremist and eurosceptic message is at odds with the one the church is now trying to put across.

In August, Pope John Paul ended his visit to Poland by urging the country to strengthen its links with Europe.

Commentators say the church is also concerned about losing its position of influence in Poland, and is keen to win over Radio Maryja's millions of listeners.

Instead, it hopes they will tune their receivers into the Church's official station, Radio Jozef.

See also:

22 Aug 02 | Europe
09 Aug 02 | Country profiles
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