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Saturday, 30 November, 2002, 13:45 GMT
Poland investigates Catholic radio

An investigation into the financial affairs of controversial Polish radio station Radio Maryja has been reopened following a television documentary on the subject.

The programme made allegations about tax fraud, but the radio has also been under fire on other grounds.

Few institutions in Poland arouse such strong passions as Radio Maryja.

It boasts as many as six million listeners a week, tuning in to a heady mix of hard-line Catholic sermons, prayers and Masses.

Radio Maryja, along with its founder Father Tadeusz Rydzyk, has been accused of xenophobia and anti-Semitism, but to its supporters its virtues are clear.

The League of Polish Families, a right-wing party with connections to the station, said it was a necessary source of independent information, free of the influence of foreign agents.

Church uneasy

The League said it was being attacked for speaking the truth about the dangers of the European Union.

Poland's Catholic bishops also stepped in, saying the TV documentary was part of a campaign against religion that was leading to social disintegration and unrest.

The Primate of Poland, Cardinal Jozef Glemp, called the programme a media denunciation.

But the Church's relationship with Radio Maryja is complicated.

Two months ago Cardinal Glemp started moves to control Radio Maryja's fund-raising offices and promote the official Catholic station, Radio Jozef, in its place.

Commentators here say the Church is deeply uncomfortable with the station's xenophobia, its anti-Europe stance and its appeal to the least educated and most marginalised Poles.

But it is also wary of alienating its millions of listeners, from taxi-drivers to farmers, at a time when its traditionally strong influence on Polish society is itself under pressure.

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09 Aug 02 | Country profiles
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