Cancellation of Glemp’s Visit Gets Mixed Reaction in Chicago

Cardinal Jozef Glemp’s decision to cancel his visit to the United States has gotten mixed reactions from the Polish community and praise from Jewish leaders here.

Chicago was to be the Polish primate’s first stop on a six-city American tour later this month. Chicago has the world’s largest Polish population outside of Warsaw.

Last Friday, Jewish leaders met with Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, the archbishop of Chicago, who was to host Glemp.

Bernardin informed the Jewish delegation that he supports the statement recently issued by Chicago’s Catholic-Jewish Scholars Dialogue, which calls for the implementation of the 1987 agreement to relocate the Carmelite convent at Auschwitz.

Glemp recently insisted that the agreement be renegotiated. He also angered Jews last month by criticizing those who had protested outside the convent and by suggesting that Jews had used the news media to arouse anti-Polish sentiments over the issue.

Because of these statements, Jewish leaders from several cities made it clear last week that Glemp would not be welcome in their communities.

Some Chicago Polish leaders voiced their opposition to both Bernardin’s statement and Glemp’s decision to cancel the trip.

‘COULDN’T SHUT THEIR LOUD MOUTHS’

Edward Moskal, national president of the Polish National Alliance and the Polish American Congress, told the Chicago Sun-Times, “This only shows he (Glemp) is a victim of anti-Polishness and anti-Catholicism, and it is a campaign from within the Jewish community, in which we have many friends. Some of their people couldn’t shut their loud mouths.

“Enough is enough. I have some very close Jewish friends, but they haven’t been able to muzzle some of their people,” the paper quoted him as saying. The cancellation “doesn’t do anything for the good dialogue we’ve had with the Jewish community.”

Helen Szymanowicz, national vice president of the Polish National Alliance, told the Sun-Times, “I’m very disappointed Cardinal Glemp isn’t coming. I think he should have come anyway. I certainly hope he will come in the future.”

However, another prominent Polish Chicagoan, Alderman Roman Pucinski, president of the Illinois Polish American Congress, said he felt Glemp’s decision to cancel was “a very wise and courageous move. He will visit the United States when the climate is more pleasant.”

Michael Kotzin, director of the Jewish Community Relations Council, who attended the meeting with Bernardin, said the cancellation was a “wise decision, given the remarks Cardinal Glemp has made over the last couple of weeks.”

“His not coming gives us the opportunity to work in a more positive way to bring about understanding and positive relations,” Kotzin said.

Maynard Wishner, president of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago, was quoted as saying, “I think the arrival of Cardinal Glemp at this time would have produced additional tensions. We remain committed to our efforts of cementing and improving relationships with the Polish American community.”

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