News Bytes From Poland
Poland’s low-key Christmas: close families share opłatek, stores reopen
Like many other things, this year’s Christmas holidays in Poland will be different than usual. Normally, on All Saints/All Souls Day (Nov. 1-2) millions of Poles criss-cross the country to visit., light candles and pray over their their family graves, but this year cemeteries were closed due to the pandemic. Christmas is another occasion when many Poles travel to their old hometowns for the holidays, but not this year. Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki appealed to his countrymen not to leave town and observe Wigilia only with immediate families who live under one roof. “On our self-discipline depends how strict future restrictions will be,” he added. In order to stimulate the economy during the Christmas shopping season, Morawiecki said that all stores would be open from November 28th. However, only one customer per 15 square meters (161 square feet) of floor space would be admitted at any one time. Churches are subject to similar restrictions. However, schools, cultural institutions, restaurants and workout gyms would remain closed till the end of the year. The restrictions are all subject to change depending on how the pandemic develops.
Poland, Hungary veto EU budget over rule-of-law” blackmail
Poland and Hungary have followed through on their threat to block the European Union’s 2021-2027 budget and coronavirus recovery fund. The veto came in response to a rule-of-law measure that could withhold funds or otherwise penalize member states that do not toe Brussels’ political line. The Polish government considers that an attempt to limit the independence of sovereign member states. Explaining the reason for the veto, Polish Prime Minster Mateusz Morawiecki said: “We demand that the European Union be a union of equals, not of those that are equal and more equal.” He noted that in Germany the justice minister decides who can be a judge, and the European Commission does not regard that as a rule-of-law violation. But when Poland’s judicial reform introduced similar measures, that was attacked as unacceptable. The EU needs a unanimous vote from all 27 members in order to pass the budget. Warsaw hopes a settlement can be reached when the rotating EU presidency, held for the past six months by an increasingly leftist Germany, comes to an end at the turn of 2021 and is handed over to Portugal.
Former archbishop dies following Vatican sexual abuse indictment
Cardinal Henryk Gulbinowicz, former Archbishop of the southwestern city of Wrocław, died at the age of 97 ten days after the Holy See stripped him of his religious duties and titles. Poland’s Apostolic Nunciature (Vatican embassy) issued a statement saying that the Holy See had analyzed allegations of sexual harassment against him and decided to bar him “from celebrating Holy Mass, taking part in public meetings and using the bishop’s insignia.” He was also ordered to make a specific donation to the Polish Episcopate’s Saint Joseph Foundation assisting victims of clerical sexual abuse. He was also denied a funeral and burial at Wrocław Cathedral. In response to the communists’ martial-law crackdown on Solidarity (1981-1983), Gulbinowicz aided the outlawed union’s fugitive activists and concealed 100 million złotys ($19.2 million) of their funds from the regime. Only recently did it emerge that dung that period the prelate had been a registered informer of the communist secret police. The communists are believed to have used his sexual misconduct to blackmail Gulbinowicz into collaboration.
3,000 Polish VIPs, strategic assets targeted by Chinese spies
Communist China’s intelligence services are carrying out massive espionage operations worldwide including the close scrutiny of some 3,000 Polish officials. The information came in an interview with Michał Bogusz, a foreign-affairs expert with Poland’s Center for Eastern Studies. The list includes former and current high-ranking government officials as well as their spouses, children, parents and siblings. Data of key importance to Chinese intelligence includes 5G transport, infrastructure and artificial intelligence as well as the pharmaceutical industry and vaccine research. According to Bogusz, Chinese intelligence units are also involved in abductions, disinformation, targeting specific individuals and blocking inconvenient information. His information followed reports that Polish prosecutors had charged two men – a Pole and a Chinese – with spying for China.
Belarusian doctors going to Poland won’t be readmitted – Lukashenka
Belarusian strongman Alexander Lukashenko has warned that doctors in his country who leave for Poland to help in its battle against the Covid-19 epidemic will not be allowed back in. “We have to treat our own people. but we won’t hold anyone by force. However, such people should be aware that they will not be able to return,” Poland’s PAP news agency quoted the dictator as saying. “They will work there and earn that big money that they left for.” Since many Polish healthcare staff have contracted Covid-19, Polish Deputy Health Minister Sławomir Gadomski said that Poland was open to doctors from other countries to help tackle the pandemic.
Academics defend Saint John Paul II against cover-up allegations
Some 200 professors and other academics have signed an open letter defending the late Polish-born Pontiff against claims the he had been involved in the cover-up of clergy sexual-abuse allegations. The signatories, who included Poland’s internationally renown film director Krzysztof Zanussi and former Prime Minister Hanna Suchocka, said they had decided on the open letter in response to unsubstantiated charges triggered by the Vatican’s recent report on American sex offender, former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. Close analysis of the McCarrick report showed no evidence that the late Pope had deliberately concealed information in the case. Rumors and anonymous letters had circulated during the 1990’s but lacked names, dates, places and other facts needed to formulate specific charges against alleged offenders However, Christophobic liberal-leftist circles and their supportive media are always ready to use hearsay to discredit Christianity, in particular the Roman Catholic Church.