(photo credit: )
Pope John Paul II's former personal secretary has called on his fellow Polish church leaders to rein in a Roman Catholic priest accused of anti-Semitism, according to a report published Tuesday.
Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, the archbishop of Krakow and longtime friend and personal secretary to the late John Paul, was quoted as saying the church must deal with the Rev. Tadeusz Rydzyk, who leads the ultraconservative Radio Maryja Catholic radio station and has repeatedly come under fire for its anti-Semitic tone and political meddling.
"We cannot remain indifferent to what is happening," Dziwisz said in a closed-door address to bishops on August 25. The entire text of the speech was published Tuesday by the liberal Catholic weekly Tygodnik Powszechny.
"We are at the threshold of a dangerous crisis - somebody else is guiding the direction of the ministry in Poland," Dziwisz said, referring to Radio Maryja and its director, Rydzyk.
Dziwisz said there is a "threat that the church in Poland is being identified solely with the position of Radio Maryja."
Dziwisz added that it was necessary to set up a new governing board of the radio and its sister outlet, the TV station Trwam.
Dziwisz's remarks are the strongest from a church leader since the latest round of criticism aimed at Rydzyk, following remarks he reportedly made this summer referring to Jews as greedy and accusing Polish President Lech Kaczynski of subservience to Jewish lobbyists.
"More and more, Radio Maryja is not contributing to unity in the church but is becoming an element of ... political and social jockeying," Dziwisz said.
In the alleged remarks, Rydzyk criticized President Kaczynski for bowing to pressure to compensate people - some of them Jews - for property nationalized by the postwar communist government, and for donating land for a future Jewish museum when Kaczynski was Warsaw's mayor.
"You know that it's about Poland giving US$65 billion dollars," Rydzyk reportedly said. "They will come to you and say: give me your coat. Take off your pants. Give me your shoes."
He also referred to the leading Polish daily, Gazeta Wyborcza, whose founder Adam Michnik has Jewish roots, as a "Talmudic" publication.
Rydzyk has not denied making the comments, but has rejected accusations of anti-Semitism, saying he "didn't intend to offend anyone."
Israel and leading Jewish groups have sharply criticized the comments and called on Polish and church officials to take action against Rydzyk.