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Transcript of Glemp Comments on Auschwitz With AM-Glemp

September 2, 1989

ROME (AP) _ The following is a transcript of comments made by Polish Cardinal Josef Glemp in Warsaw to several Italian reporters, as reported Saturday by the Rome daily La Repubblica. The translation from Italian was by The Associated Press.


Q: Eminence, how will this matter of the Carmelite nuns in Auschwitz be resolved? Cardinal Macharski has visited the pope in Rome...

A: Oh, we will resolve it, we will resolve it. With patience. One needs to reflect a bit. There are some Jewish circles who have let themselves be carried away by nerves.

Q: In your opinion, what irked Jews the most in the words you spoke in Czestochowa?″

A: Perhaps there are various points. They disliked that I said they have great influence on the mass media.

Q: And also that you said that their demands concerning the Auschwitz Carmelite convent are excessive.

A: Yes, because it’s a scandal to expel the nuns from the convent. What do we have to do? Put them in tents? Who do the nuns offend by praying next to the wall of the concentration camp? The land they are on is land where Catholics, let’s say Christians, were martyred. I don’t understand why they should be transferred. Do you? Our people don’t understand. The Jews should understand that devoting oneself to a life of prayer near the place were Christians were martyred doesn’t offend their feelings.

Q: And instead, you feel offended for having to move the Carmelite convent 5OO meters 3/8

A: Yes, this is offensive, because it’s an irrational gesture. Suppose I came to your house and said: you have to move this wardrobe. You rightly would respond: stupid, this is my property.

Q: But this accord on the transfer was signed in Geneva two years ago by eminent members of the clergy....

A: No, by Cardinal Macharski and by a group of people who are not competent (in the matter).

Q: What do you mean? Weren’t the Cardinal of Paris, Lustiger, and of Lyon, Decourtray, and of Brussels, Danneels, there?

A: I want this accord to be renegotiated. It has to be done by competent people and not by just any cardinal who doesn’t understand the things.

Q: So Macharski did not understand?

A: Cardinal Macharski didn’t understand the situation of the people.

Q: So what do we do now?

A: Everything needs to be renegotiated, with calm, with dialogue, the way I propose. It has to be re-examined, but by competent people. And the Poles can not be excluded.

Q: But was Macharski, who negotiated, not a Pole?

A: Macharski alone? What do you mean? He represents only the church of Krakow. The problem is much more vast.

Q: So, you don’t approve of what Macharski did 3/8

A: I can believe that Macharski signed because things were done a little too hastily.

Q: Fine, but then this ecumenical center next to the Auschwitz camp, will that be built or not?

A: Do you know how much this center costs? Someone has made this commitment, but without money the center cannot be built. For now there is no money.

Q: In fact there is only a sign on that land which reads: ″Here the center will be built.″ Isn’t that a bit little, two years after the Geneva accord?

A: Our people, who are going through a severe economic crisis, cannot afford to build a center which costs at least $2 million.

Q: But the Jews, for example the American ones, couldn’t they help?

A: Yes, I think so. But first there is a need to re-establish a bit of calm.

Q: In order to re-establish this calm, wouldn’t you like to meet with the chief rabbi of Warsaw who, because of your talk in Czestochowa, has not attended the meeting for peace among religious leaders?

A: Oh, I am still his friend...

Q: He says you are not.

A: How is that? Then he has changed (his mind) 3/8 With him we must face all the diffcult issues which have been neglected so far.

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