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September 13, 2021 11:33 am
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Crudely Antisemitic Books Sold Outside Warsaw Church as Top Polish Leaders Attend Beatification Ceremony of Revered Catholic Figures

avatar by Ben Cohen

Catholic worshipers attending the beatification ceremony of Polish Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski and Mother Elzbieta Roza Czacka in Warsaw. Photo: Reuters/Slawomir Kaminski/Agencja Gazeta

Piles of antisemitic literature with titles such as “Scum and the Jews in Today’s Poland” were prominently on sale outside Warsaw’s main church on Sunday, as top Polish and Vatican political and religious leaders gathered inside for the beatification ceremony of two much-revered Catholic figures.

Wojciech Karpieszuk, a journalist for the Gazeta Wyborcza news outlet, wrote a first person account of his reaction to the books he saw on sale, stressing his profound unease at the lack of any protest from the thousands of worshipers who were attending the joint beatification of Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski, who served as Primate of Poland under the former Communist regime, and Mother Elzbieta Roza Czacka, a blind nun who devoted her life to the visually-impaired.

Among those in attendance at Warsaw’s Temple of Divine Providence — a key national and religious symbol in Poland — were the country’s President Andrzej Duda, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, and the powerful head of the country’s ruling Law and Justice (PiS) Party, Jaroslaw Kaczynski. The beatification Mass — which marks the first step toward sainthood in the Catholic Church — was led by a Vatican representative, Cardinal Marcello Semeraro.

In his Gazeta Wyborcza piece, Karpieszuk listed several of the titles of the books that were neatly stacked on tables outside the church. Pushing antisemitic conspiracy theories, especially the latest fabrication of Jewish responsibility for the COVID-19 pandemic, the titles included “Coronavirus Vaccine — a Threat to Humanity?”, “Judeopolonia II — Anatomy of Enslaving Poland,” “Scum and the Jews in Today’s Poland,” “Homoterror” and “5G — the Birth of a Mega Totalitarianism.”

Karpieszuk said that while he had seen these and similar titles on sale at meetings organized by ultranationalist groups, he had “never thought that something like that could be sold during a beatification Mass attended by the highest state authorities, church leaders, and thousands of the faithful.”

The journalist said that he had spent about 40 minutes observing customers at the book stalls right after the ceremony concluded.

“During those 40 minutes I didn’t see a single reaction of indignation. Nothing,” Karpieszuk wrote. “I didn’t see anyone draw the attention of the sellers. Many clergy, and even one bishop among them, passed by the stands indifferently. They saw the books, but they didn’t react. It was as if nothing had happened.”

Karpieszuk said he was struck by the offense caused to Poland’s Catholic clergy by the rainbow symbol — which represents the LGBTQ+ community, itself the target of discriminatory measures — but not the sight of “antisemitic books sold on the occasion of the beatification Mass.”

He also shared a photograph of one of the book stalls on Twitter, causing an angry reaction among several Polish readers. “You are awarded three rainbow badges and two medals of merit from the ‘chosen people’ for this propaganda,” one responded sarcastically.

Sunday’s ceremony in Warsaw took place around the same time that Pope Francis held an ecumenical meeting with Christian and Jewish leaders in the Hungarian capital, Budapest, where he warned against rising antisemitism.

“I think of the threat of antisemitism still lurking in Europe and elsewhere,” Pope Francis declared. “This is a fuse that must not be allowed to burn. And the best way to defuse it is to work together, positively, and to promote fraternity.”

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