I suppose it’s possible, indeed likely, that most people here won’t be regular readers of The Tablet (subscription required). This would be a pity, because its news coverage is often quite excellent, and you get to hear what all is going on in the wacky world of international Catholicism. Why can’t we have a paper like this in Ireland?
Anyway, the 25 August issue has a fascinating article about one Fr Tadeusz Rydzyk. Fr Rydzyk, 62, is a Redemptorist media mogul, which in itself should raise an eyebrow, and boss of the popular station (upwards of 1.2m listeners) Radio Maryja. The station’s “Catholic patriotic” stance could best be described in terms of, well, imagine if Gerry McGeough was running a radio station with a mass audience. Radio Maryja’s populist campaigning around law and order, demands for the prosecution of members of the old socialist regime, and opposition to the European Union is combined with railing against Jews, gays, foreigners and Freemasons, but mostly Jews. It’s a familiar brand of Polish nationalism, but so virulent in form as to make the late Field Marshal Piłsudski appear like a soft liberal.
The Polish hierarchy have never been known as the most progressive bunch, but even they have found Rydzyk a bit rich for their blood. The former Primate, Cardinal Józef Glemp, condemned him as far back as 2002. The Tablet reports that the papal nuncio, Archbishop Józef Kowalczyk, has been canvassing the bishops to do something about Radio Maryja, and a significant number of clergy and lay Catholics have protested the station’s pervasive anti-Semitism. And yet, Rydzyk seems untouchable. He has a very close relationship with the Kaczyński brothers who run Poland’s hard-right government – although that hasn’t stopped him saying that the president’s wife, Maria Kaczyńska, is a “witch” who should be “put down” because she supports legal abortion for rape victims. The Redemptorist order, either in Poland or internationally, has shown no concern over Rydzyk’s activities. Indeed, a few weeks back Fr Zdzisław Klafka, Poland’s Redemptorist provincial, took Rydzyk with him to an audience with Pope Benny. Benny himself, following in the footsteps of the late JP2, has been keen to distance himself from traditional Catholic anti-Semitism, so here’s a bit of a test for him.
Rud eile: While on the subject of mad Catholics, the August issue of the Hibernian (“For Fascism and Our Lady”) doesn’t quite live up to the paper’s usual bonkers standards. But there is a piece on the significance of Benny’s rehabilitation of the Latin Mass, and Gerry McGeough continues his survey of great counter-revolutionary movements of the past with a major piece on the Vendée revolt, when God-fearing Catholic peasants rose up against the Masonic Jacobin dictatorship.