Was Polish Catholic Priest Wojciech Lemanski Fired Over Ties to Jews?

Promoted Dialogue and Accountability for Holocaust Crimes

Outspoken: Rev. Wojciech Lemanski has called for dialogue with Jews and accountability for Holocaust-era crimes. Is that enough to get him fired by the Catholic church?
getty images
Outspoken: Rev. Wojciech Lemanski has called for dialogue with Jews and accountability for Holocaust-era crimes. Is that enough to get him fired by the Catholic church?

By Reuters

Published August 01, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 2 of 2)

The episode was buried by the communist authorities after the war and resurfaced only after a 2001 book written by Polish-born U.S. historian Jan Gross described the massacre.

The publication was criticised by some Catholic church leaders as stoking anti-Polish and anti-Jewish sentiments, but the subsequent debate inspired young Lemanski to work on improving the dialogue between the two groups.

“God knocked on my door and said he wanted something more from me. I can’t imagine being a priest without a special sensitivity for the Jews, their tragedies and a need for dialogue,” the priest said in an interview.

Lemanski is among a few Catholic priests who commemorate the massacre each year with Jewish leaders and holds prayer vigils at the Treblinka camp, one of the infamous Nazi death factories where Jews, along with Poles and others, were gassed.

He also recovered gravestones from abandoned and destroyed Jewish cemeteries, incorporating two of them into the main alter of his church. That move stoked charges from some conservative Catholics that he was turning it into a synagogue.

In a statement explaining its decision to send Lemanski on early retirement, the Warsaw Diocese did not refer to the gravestones, but said he had failed to get church permission on issues related to the parish.

The diocese also said Archbishop Hoser’s relations with the Jewish community were “proper and full of trust”.

Church representatives declined further comment.

Jewish community leaders have avoided being pulled into the affair, but some have expressed support for Lemanski’s efforts.

“I can say one thing: looking at the way parishioners treat the priest, I think that if the Jewish community had had a rabbi like Lemanski, the community would have been very pleased,” said Piotr Kadlcik, head of the Union of Jewish Religious Communities in Poland.

Despite being sidelined by his superiors, Lemanski said he would remain active after lodging an appeal with the Vatican.

“I realise it’s not an easy path but I don’t feel like someone on the margin of the church. On the contrary, I feel like I’m in the centre of my church because without this dialogue our church loses its authority,” he said.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • “The Black community was resistant to the Jewish community coming into the neighborhood — at first.” Watch this video about how a group of gardeners is rebuilding trust between African-Americans and Jews in Detroit.
  • "I am a Jewish woman married to a non-Jewish man who was raised Catholic, but now considers himself a “common-law Jew.” We are raising our two young children as Jews. My husband's parents are still semi-practicing Catholics. When we go over to either of their homes, they bow their heads, often hold hands, and say grace before meals. This is an especially awkward time for me, as I'm uncomfortable participating in a non-Jewish religious ritual, but don't want his family to think I'm ungrateful. It's becoming especially vexing to me now that my oldest son is 7. What's the best way to handle this situation?" http://jd.fo/b4ucX What would you do?
  • Maybe he was trying to give her a "schtickle of fluoride"...
  • It's all fun, fun, fun, until her dad takes the T-Bird away for Shabbos.
  • "Like many Jewish people around the world, I observed Shabbat this weekend. I didn’t light candles or recite Hebrew prayers; I didn’t eat challah or matzoh ball soup or brisket. I spent my Shabbat marching for justice for Eric Garner of Staten Island, Michael Brown of Ferguson, and all victims of police brutality."
  • Happy #NationalDogDay! To celebrate, here's a little something from our archives:
  • A Jewish couple was attacked on Monday night in New York City's Upper East Side. According to police, the attackers flew Palestinian flags.
  • "If the only thing viewers knew about the Jews was what they saw on The Simpsons they — and we — would be well served." What's your favorite Simpsons' moment?
  • "One uncle of mine said, 'I came to America after World War II and I hitchhiked.' And Robin said, 'I waited until there was a 747 and a kosher meal.'" Watch Billy Crystal's moving tribute to Robin Williams at last night's #Emmys:
  • "Americans are much more focused on the long term and on the end goal which is ending the violence, and peace. It’s a matter of zooming out rather than debating the day to day.”
  • "I feel great sorrow about the fact that you decided to return the honor and recognition that you so greatly deserve." Rivka Ben-Pazi, who got Dutchman Henk Zanoli recognized as a "Righteous Gentile," has written him an open letter.
  • Is there a right way to criticize Israel?
  • From The Daily Show to Lizzy Caplan, here's your Who's Jew guide to the 2014 #Emmys. Who are you rooting for?
  • “People at archives like Yad Vashem used to consider genealogists old ladies in tennis shoes. But they have been impressed with our work on indexing documents. Now they are lining up to work with us." This year's Jewish Genealogical Societies conference took place in Utah. We got a behind-the-scenes look:
  • What would Maimonides say about Warby Parker's buy-one, give-one charity model?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.