WARSAW, Poland (JTA) — Some 100 people attended a ceremony commemorating the victims of the pogrom in Jedwabne in northeast Poland.
For the first time ceremony was attended by Bishop Rafał Markowski, president of the Council for Religious Dialogue and the Committee for Dialogue with Judaism, who said that the Catholic Church prays for the Polish perpetrators of the murder and apologizes for it.
At Jedwabne, a few dozen local perpetrators burned alive more than 300 Jews in a barn in the village.
Markowski recalled that his predecessor, Bishop Mieczysław Cisło, had said that if the Nostra Aetate Declaration, on the relationship of the Church to non-Christian religions was announced in 1939, there would not have been a pogrom in Kielce or Jedwabne, or perhaps there would not have been the Holocaust.
Emil Jeżowski, from Israel’s embassy, read a letter from Israel’s Ambassador to Poland Anna Azari, in which she emphasized that Israel remains friendly as it watches the difficult path being taken by Poland to learn its history.
“The demands of our religion are for us to remember and not forget,” said Anna Chipczyńska, chairman of the board of the Warsaw Jewish Community, who was attended to during the ceremony for the first time by a bodyguard.