Polish Catholic Bishop Tadeusz Pieronek has claimed that he was misquoted by a Catholic Italian website that said he believes “the Holocaust as such is a Jewish invention.” A former leader of the Polish bishops' conference, Pieronek's remarks were published on the conservative Pontifex.roma website.
Pieronek's remarks were quoted days before Wednesday's United Nations' observance of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, timed to coincide with the 65th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp, located in what was German-occupied Poland.
A storm of protest, led by European Jewish Congress president Moshe Kantor, greeted the reported comments by the bishbop. “The false accusations made by Bishop Pieronek once again show the underlying anti-Semitism that still lingers among some European clergymen in the Catholic Church – especially in regards to the Holocaust,” Kantor said in a statement.
In followup interviews, Pieronek told at least three newspapers and one television reporter that the posted article was inaccurate – but also made a point of saying that the Holocaust has become “a Jewish weapon.”
The clergyman complained that the Italian website had not first cleared his quotes with him following his interview -- a demand often made by interview subjects but rarely agreed to by Western journalists. In Poland, however, a censorship law exists (Article 14) that allows interview subjects to insist on giving their personal approval of their quotes before a journalist can publish the article, noted the Polish newspaper, The News.
The Gazeta Wyborcza, meanwhile, pointed out in an editorial comment that no one has denied that many Polish people were also murdered by Nazis at the Auschwitz death camp. “It has to be remembered, however, that the crematoria there were invented to annihilate the Jewish nation,” wrote the editor of the Polish daily.
The Polish bishop told the Rzeczpospolita newspaper that any talk of the Nazi genocide in context of the Jews alone is a 'historical manipulation' – one that is used primarily to unite Jews around the world. “It is used as a propaganda weapon,” he told the newspaper. “They have a right to use it, but we have the right to talk about it,” he said.
Jewish Propaganda, U.S. Backers
The 75-year-old bishop claimed in Monday's interview that Jews had “expropriated that tragedy for propaganda... it's used as a propaganda weapon and to obtain advantages that are often unjustified.” He noted that although it is “undeniable that most of those who died in the concentration camps were Jews, there were also gypsies, Poles, Italians and Catholics on the list.”
He added the often-repeated libel that Jews are powerful, especially in the U.S., because they have money and political clout.
“But they, the Jews, enjoy good press because they have powerful financial means behind them, enormous power and the unconditional backing of the United States,” he said, “and this favors a certain arrogance that I find unbearable.”
Honor the Palestinians
The Polish cleric also called construction of Israel's security barrier, which has drastically reduced the number of terror attacks perpetrated within pre-1967 Israel, “a colossal injustice to the Palestinians, who are treated like animals and whose rights are violated, to say the least.”
Pieronek called for a day to honor Palestinian Authority Arabs as well, saying “with the connivance of international lobbies, we don't talk about these things much.”
The controversial wall, which effectively separates much of Judea and Samaria from the rest of Israel, was built to block the entry of suicide bombers into urban Israeli areas.