BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: World: Europe
Front Page 
World 
Africa 
Americas 
Asia-Pacific 
Europe 
Middle East 
South Asia 
-------------
From Our Own Correspondent 
-------------
Letter From America 
UK 
UK Politics 
Business 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Education 
Entertainment 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 

Sunday, 27 August, 2000, 15:56 GMT 16:56 UK
Polish Church apology over Holocaust
Pope John Paul II greets World War II death camp survivor Jerzy Kluger,
Pope John Paul II has taken the lead on Holocaust attitudes
By Mike Fox in London

Leaders of the Roman Catholic Church in Poland are asking forgiveness for what they call historical failings among the clergy and their followers, including tolerance of anti-Semitism.

In a letter of apology being read in churches nationwide on Sunday, the bishops admit that although Poles made noble efforts to save Jews during World War II, they had also showed indifference or enmity.

This move is part of a wider effort in the jubilee year for the Catholic Church to reconcile itself to its often turbulent history.

It is the first statement from the Polish bishops since the Polish-born Pope apologised in March for the role of the Catholic Church in the Holocaust.

Although Poland was occupied by Nazi Germany during World War II, many believe the church failed to make enough of a public stand against the slaughter.

Before the war, there were more than three million Jews in Poland. But afterwards only a few hundred remained.

Attention

Anti-semitism is still a problem in Poland, but commentators see it as becoming more marginal, thanks to economic reforms bringing more modern attitudes into the country.

The bishops' appealed for Catholics to strengthen their solidarity with Jews in order to prevent such a tragedy happening again.

The church is also attracting attention after its leader, Cardinal Jozef Glemp, said there could be negative side-effects for Polish society if the country joins the European Union.

While the statement on Jews is seen as helping prepare Poland to take a higher profile in the international community, the Cardinal's statement suggest that there are still some who question the wisdom of being exposed to the full impact of west European ideas.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
BBC RADIO NEWS
BBC ONE TV NEWS
WORLD NEWS SUMMARY
PROGRAMMES GUIDE
See also:

23 Mar 00 | Middle East
Israel hails Pope's Holocaust grief
05 Jun 99 | Europe
Pope pays tribute to Poles
31 Mar 00 | Talking Point
The Pope on a tightrope
18 May 00 | Europe
Pope marks 80th birthday
Links to more Europe stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Europe stories