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Posted Thursday, August 27, 1998


WE REPRODUCE with acknowledgements this article from
The Wire: News from the Associated Press
Wednesday, August 26, 1998



More Crosses Erected Near Auschwitz


WARSAW, Poland (AP) -- Catholic activists put up two more crosses today near Auschwitz, defying a call by Polish bishops to stop because of opposition from Jewish groups.

The Council of the Episcopate, the highest body of Poland's Catholic church, called Tuesday for a large cross near the camp to stay in place, but for other smaller crosses recently planted next to it to be removed. It also appealed for people to stop planting additional crosses.

Poland's chief rabbi, Pinchas Menachem Joskowicz, rejected that appeal today, saying that any number of crosses near Auschwitz harmed the memory of Jewish victims of the death camp.

The larger cross was used during a 1979 Mass celebrated by Pope John Paul II at Birkenau, the sister camp of Auschwitz. It commemorates 152 Poles who resisted the Nazis and were killed on the site in 1941.

Joskowicz said the presence of the cross prohibits Jews from praying at Auschwitz for the 1.5 million victims, mostly Jews, killed at the camp.

"We Jews suffered there the most so I think it would be bad if in this sacred place we could not pray for our nation, our relatives, our friends and for all who suffered there," Joskowicz said.


 Two more crosses went up in a field bordering Auschwitz today, adding to the more than 100 put up in recent weeks to protest Jewish demands to remove the larger cross.

The bishops lack any legal power over the land where the crosses stand, but their statement was considered a powerful signal from the church and likely to be heeded by all but the most conservative Catholics.

Cardinal Jozef Glemp, the leading Catholic Church figure in Poland, told more than 100,000 worshipers today at Jasna Gora, Poland's holiest shrine, that no one should use the cross to incite anger.

"It would be wrong if we used it as a tool for irritating, because irritation provokes anger, provokes revenge," Glemp said.

But Glemp also expressed regret that Jews "cannot find today words of understanding and compromise."

Joskowicz, whose parents died at Auschwitz, sounded unwilling to compromise.

"There is no difference to us whether one cross or a thousand crosses are standing there," he said, suggesting that flags of all nations whose citizens suffered at the camp should be the only symbol commemorating the victims.   

Copyright 1998 The Associated Press.
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