Weekly Round-Up of Polish News Developments
There have been several particularly sad and indeed disturbing news stories in Poland over the past couple of weeks. One of the most emotive and controversial of these is the continuing fallout from the TVN24 ‘Czarno na białym’ documentary film on paedophilia involving the Roman Catholic Church in Poland entitled Franciszkańska 3 which alleged that Saint Pope John Paul II had failed to take effective action against three priests while he served as Archbishop of Kraków.
The broadcast has provoked a furious reaction from the Polish Roman Catholic Church and those who view it as a disgraceful attack on the memory of a national icon using records from the then Communist dictatorship. It has led to very sharp attacks on TVN especially in programs on public broadcaster TVP. Signs have appeared showing the TVN logo and the words in Polish ‘Nie oglądam’ – ‘I do not watch’.
Prawo i Sprawiedliwość moved quickly to be seen as staunch defenders of the late Polish Pontiff passing a resolution in the Sejm defending his good memory, with Lewica voting against and the main opposition Platforma Obywatelska party choosing not to take part.
Another church related story this week is the finding of a fresh probe by prosecutors from the investigative arm of the Institute of National Remembrance Instytut Pamięci Narodowej that the prominent anti-communist priest Father Franciszek Blachnicki, who died suddenly in Germany in 1987, was poisoned at the behest of the then Communist regime.
There has also been much sadness and indeed some recriminations following the revelation of the tragic death by suicide of the 15-year old son of a Platforma Obywatelska Sejm member after his public identification as a sexual abuse victim.
The main developments over the past week have included:
• the Sejm passes a resolution to defend the good name of Saint Pope John Paul II amid a backlash against the Franciszkańska 3 program
• an Instytut Pamięci Narodowej investigation concludes that the death of anti-communist priest Franciszek Blachnicki in 1987 was due to poisoning
• there is sadness and recrimination over the death by suicide of a 15-year-old boy publicly revealed as a sex abuse victim, and
• the Polish Embassy in Dublin highlights a forthcoming lecture entitled ‘Who really broke Enigma?’
The broadcast on Monday of last week by private broadcaster TVN24 of the program Franciszkańska 3, which alleged that the late Polish Pontiff Saint John Paul II had failed to take appropriate action against three paedophile priests while he served as Archbishop of Kraków in the 1970s, has ignited a furious reaction in Poland which still continues. There has been a strong backlash against TVN24 especially over the program, with the U.S. Ambassador to Poland even being summoned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Warszawa to hear a protest at the action of the subsidiary of Warner Bros. Discovery of the U.S.
Last Thursday the Sejm passed a resolution introduced by Prawo i Sprawiedliwość to defend the good name of John Paul II. The resolution condemned what it termed a ‘disgraceful media smear campaign against St. John Paul II’ whom it termed ‘the greatest Pole in history’. The resolution was passed on a vote of 271 to 43 with many opposition members not participating.
IPN Investigation Concludes Communist Regime Murdered Fr. Blachnicki
On Tuesday Justice Minister and Prosecutor General Zbigniew Ziobro announced the results of a three-year fresh probe by the investigative branch of the Instytut Pamięci Narodowej into the cause of the sudden death in Germany in 1987 of the prominent anti-communist priest Fr. Franciszek Blachnicki. Ziobro commented bluntly that ‘The investigation has established beyond any doubt that Fr. Blachnicki was murdered. He was poisoned. The collected evidence and new statements from witnesses allow us to conclude that Fr. Blachnicki became another victim of the communist system’. Speaking alongside the minister, the chairman of the Institute of National Remembrance said that ‘Today, we know that Father Franciszek Blachnicki was murdered on the 27th of February 1987 after his close circle was penetrated by two determined, treacherous and experienced operatives of communist intelligence’.
Surviving the Second World War despite being sentenced to death by the Nazi Germans in March 1942, with the sentence later commuted to 10 years imprisonment, Blachnicki had converted to Catholicism while awaiting execution, and became a priest after the end of he war. He subsequently founded the so-called Light-Life Movement, the Catholic renewal organisation also known as the Oasis Movement, which is now active worldwide in more than 30 countries.
Blachnicki settled in Germany following the imposition of martial law, but in 1983 Poland’s communist regime issued an arrest warrant accusing him of ‘acting against the interests of the Polish People’s Republic’. His sudden death at the age of 65 was viewed as suspicious from the outset.
Tragic Suicide of Son of Platforma Obywatelska Sejm Member
There has been much sadness and indeed recrimination in Poland over the revelation of the death by suicide of 15-year-old Mikołaj Filiks on the 17th of February. His mother Magdalena is a Platforma Obywatelska Sejm member. He had faced online harassment after his identity as the victim of sexual abuse at the hands of a then prominent Platforma Obywatelska activist became public knowledge.
His abuser had been sentenced to 10 years imprisonment with the individuals involved not publicly named to protect the identity of the victim. However, last December the editor-in-chief of Radio Szczecin published an article saying the victims were ‘children of a famous female member of the Sejm’ and disclosed their ages. He also claimed on the TVP Info news channel that the ‘case was kept silent’ because it ‘concerned circles within Platforma Obywatelska’.
TVP Info and Radio Szczecin have both defended themselves, with TVP Info maintaining that another Platforma Obywatelska Sejm member had been the first to disclose the sensitive information. The Prosecutor’s Office in Szczecin has opened an investigation into the death. Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki urged people ‘not to politicise this terrible tragedy’.
GUS: Annual Inflations Hits 18.4% in February
Inflation in Poland is remaining stubbornly high despite official predictions that it would fall significantly in the course of this year. On Wednesday Głowny Urząd Statystyczny (GUS) or Statistics Poland reported in a flash estimate that the annual rate of inflation actually increased in February to 18.4% from 17.2% in January. In December 2022 the inflation rate stood at 16.6%. The figure was slightly lower than that expected by most economic forecasters. Last Friday the Narodowy Bank Polski, Poland’s central bank, said in its latest inflation report that inflation would average 11.9% in 2023 as a whole, before falling sharply to 5.7% in 2024 and 3.5% in 2025. The bank’s Monetary Policy Council has left its key reference interest rate unchanged at 6.75%.
Adamczyk: EU Proposal on Car Emissions ‘Not Aligned With Reality’
Speaking during an interview published on Tuesday Infrastructure Minister Andrzej Adamczyk said that Poland is against the EU Commission’s proposal for the new Euro 7 emissions standards for motor vehicles saying it would ‘drive up the costs of producing cars and lorries’. On Monday Adamczyk had held talks in Strasbourg with fellow transport ministers from Czechia, Germany and Italy, with counterparts from Hungary, Portugal, Romania, and Slovakia joining remotely. Members states are due to commence negotiations on the proposed Euro 7 standards later this year, which officials claim are intended to reduce emission limits.
Adamczyk commented that ‘We are concerned by the proposed new Euro 7 standards. They are a product of very high ambitions of EU officials and groups in the European Parliament, who are pushing for measures that are not aligned with reality. This has been confirmed at the meeting in Strasbourg. We will not approve the proposed Euro 7 standards. We expect the proposed measure to be brought into alignment with reality. The currently proposed deadlines are unworkable’. He added that adoption of the Euro 7 standards as proposed would force manufacturers ‘to satisfy new technological requirements’, while simultaneously ‘putting a break on research into zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs)’.
TCD Lecture on ‘Who Really Broke Enigma?’
Turning to developments related to Poland in Ireland, the Polish Embassy in Dublin is highlighting an upcoming free public lecture in Trinity College Dublin, which is taking place in association with the Embassy. The lecture is entitled ‘Who really broke Enigma?’ and will be presented by Sir Dermot Turing, who is a nephew of the famous Alan Turing and a distinguished writer. This lecture is the first in a series of annual ‘Łukasiewicz lectures’, and will take place on Wednesday, 29th March from 6.30pm. You can register to attend on Eventbrite.
The Embassy commented that ‘Sir Dermot will give a free public talk about his book “X Y & Z: The Real Story of How Enigma Was Broken”. Drawing on recently declassified archives Sir Dermot Turing tells in full – for the first time in English – the real story of how Enigma was broken and celebrates the early work of Polish codebreakers which led to the joint efforts of the French, British and Polish secret services (X, Y and Z) during the Second World War’.
The Embassy added that this is ‘a story which is not often told. Poland, which after the Second World War was for so many years under communist rule, was almost absent from Western history books and many of our achievements did not get the attention they deserved. It’s time to bring this fascinating story to light!’.
That’s all from the Hello Irlandia Weekly News for this week.
William Murphy writes for Hello Irlandia on political and general news.