Polish priest won't be investigated

Prosecutors rule out probe into clergyman's alleged anti-Semitic remarks.

antisemite priest 224 (photo credit: Courtesy of latzky.neostrada.pl)
antisemite priest 224
(photo credit: Courtesy of latzky.neostrada.pl)
Polish prosecutors have ruled out investigating a powerful priest who allegedly made anti-Semitic remarks and called the president's wife a "witch," a spokeswoman said Tuesday. Prosecutors in the central city of Torun said there was no legal case for launching a criminal investigation into the comments reportedly made by Rev. Tadeusz Rydzyk during an April lecture, prosecutors' spokeswoman Ewa Janczur told a news conference. Torun prosecutors had received more than a dozen complaints alleging Rydzyk had slandered the Polish president, potentially illegal under Polish law, and insulted Jews, Janczur said. Janczur declined to provide the reasoning behind the decision, saying it would be made public once the prosecutors' decision becomes formally binding. On recordings of the lecture that surfaced this summer, a speaker purported to be Rydzyk suggests that Jews are greedy and that Polish President Lech Kaczynski is subservient to Jewish lobbyists. The speaker also appeared to criticize the first lady's support for abortion rights, calling her a "witch" and suggesting she should kill herself. Rydzyk has not denied giving the speech, but suggested the tapes were doctored - without specifying which parts of his speech might have been altered. He also rejected accusations of anti-Semitism and said he "didn't intend to offend anyone." Rydzyk runs a conservative media empire that includes Radio Maryja, a station that has broadcast anti-Semitic programming in the past. The prosecutors spent the past two weeks analyzing the tapes after receiving them from the weekly magazine Wprost earlier this month, Janczur said. In early July, Wprost published excerpts and posted audio clips on its Web site from the lecture, given to students this spring at the journalism school in Torun, which Rydzyk himself founded and where Radio Maryja is headquartered. His purported comments have sparked outrage among Israelis and Jewish groups. The Israeli ambassador to Poland, David Peleg, called them the worst case of anti-Jewish language Poland has seen since an anti-Semitic campaign in 1968 that drove thousands of Jews to flee the country. He also urged Polish and Roman Catholic authorities to condemn Rydzyk. In early August, Pope Benedict XVI met briefly with Rydzyk and two other Polish priests after the pontiff's weekly public blessing Sunday in Castel Gandolfo, his summer home. The Vatican later issued assurances that the Pope's meeting with Rydzyk, which drew protests from Jewish organizations, did not imply any change in the church's desire for good relations with Jews.