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Poland Okays Removal of Auschwitz Convent, but Cardinal Glemp Protests

The Polish government has announced its formal approval of a plan to remove a Carmelite convent from the site of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp in Poland, the World Jewish Congress was informed.

The Warsaw government’s decision was conveyed to WJC representative Gerhart Riegner Thursday by the European Office of the United Nations in Geneva. The plan was agreed to last week at a meeting in Geneva between European Jewish leaders and representatives of the Catholic Church, including the Archbishop of Cracow, Franciszek Cardinal Macharski.

But apparently, differences have arisen within the Church in Poland. Polish Primate Josef Cardinal Glemp indicated at a press conference in Brussels last Wednesday that he considers the matter unsettled.

“The dialogue between Jews and Catholics must be continued. This matter is not terminated. It is rather astonishing that the Jews are remembering this fact 40 years after the war,” Glemp said in reply to questions.

REBUKE OF JEWS?

Moreover, Glemp seemed to be rebuking Jews. “Jews must understand us as we are trying to understand them,” he said. “For us it is essential to establish a place for prayer. But we fully support the project to create at Auschwitz, a place of so many atrocities, a multi-faith institute, not only with Jews and Catholics but also with Moslems, Orthodox and other religions.”

The Cardinal was probably referring to the decision at the Geneva meeting to establish an interreligious center away from the camp site where Catholics and Jews could meet, pray, meditate, hold seminars and greet visitors.

But the agreement made it clear that the convent would be removed from Auschwitz within two years and the Carmelite nuns would move to a different site.

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