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At the conference of the Polish Episcopate, Father Isakowicz-Zaleski appealed for the burial of the victims of the Volhynia massacre. “I was written down”

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Father Tadeusz Isakowicz-Zaleski, a relative of the victims of the genocide committed in Volhynia, did not accept the invitation to the church celebrations of the 80th anniversary of the Volhynia massacre. He appeared at the KEP conference with a banner whose slogans demanded the burial of the victims. The priest informed after that that he had been written down by the police. During the mass, Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki appealed “for dignified burials of all victims of genocide”.

Celebrations of the 80th anniversary of the Volhynia massacre began in Warsaw on Friday. At 11 a.m., a liturgy of the word was held in the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist, during which the chairman of the Polish Episcopal Conference, Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki, and the head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, signed a message on forgiveness and reconciliation.

Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki and Archbishop Światosław Szewczuk signed a joint statement “Forgiveness and reconciliation”PAP/Andrzej Lange

Before the ceremony, Father Tadeusz Isakowicz-Zaleski announced that he had not accepted the invitation to the church celebrations. ‘I will stand in front of the cathedral with a banner, demanding the truth and the burial of the victims of the genocide committed in Volhynia and Eastern Lesser Poland,’ he announced.

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The clergyman said that he would be accompanied by people who signed the letter of families of genocide victims and people fighting for their commemoration to the episcopates in Poland and Ukraine on June 15.

– We have not received a reply to this letter, and the talks that have taken place have not yielded any results. Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki believes that in the message to be signed, the following formula should be used: “We forgive and ask for forgiveness.” And the families feel that this formula should not be used, he said.

Father Isakowicz-Zalewski: I was listed

Isakowicz-Zaleski with a banner appeared at a conference at the House of Warsaw Archbishops.

Father Tadeusz Isakowicz-Zaleski with a banner demanding the truth about Volhynia and the burial of the victimsPAP/Rafał Guz

After 2 p.m., the priest reported that he had been registered by the police together with the man accompanying him, who – as described by Isakowicz-Zaleski – had been saved in 1944, as an infant, by his mother. “Is this supposed to be ‘reconciliation and forgiveness’?” – He asked.

Father Tadeusz Isakowicz-Zaleski with a banner demanding the truth about Volhynia and the burial of the victimsPAP/Rafał Guz

Father Tadeusz Isakowicz-Zaleski before the service in the Warsaw CathedralPAP/Andrzej Lange

Gądecki: We make a firm appeal for dignified burials for all victims of genocide

Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki stated that the participants of the service ask for forgiveness above all from God, because only those led by him can achieve true unity. – This cannot be done without referring to the truth and without naming, in accordance with the wishes of the borderland families, the genocide of the Polish population in Volhynia by name, without resorting to half-truths and euphemisms such as: the Volhynian tragedy, the Volhynian crime, ethnic cleansing or the anti-Polish action – he stressed .

Read also: “I will not rest until the last victim of the terrible Volyn crime is found”

As he noted, the truth also demands the memory of people of other nationalities who are victims of members of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), as well as the Ukrainian auxiliary police and Ukrainian SS auxiliary regiments. – Not only Poles died, but also Jews, CzechsArmenians, Roma and righteous Ukrainians who saved Poles – he mentioned.

He added that the genocide took place not only in Volhynia, but also in Polesie, Lubelszczyzna and Eastern Lesser Poland.

Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki and Archbishop Światosław Szewczuk signed a joint statement “Forgiveness and reconciliation”PAP/Andrzej Lange

He assessed that for an effective reconciliation process, the truth about the Volhynia crime should find a place in the educational programs of Poland and Ukraine. – We make a firm appeal, first of all to the presidents and prime ministers as well as the parliamentary authorities of Ukraine and Poland, regarding dignified burials of all victims of genocide, preceded by exhumations of the bodies of the murdered – he said.

He emphasized that “these burials should be of a religious nature, in accordance with the confession and rite of the victims.” – We also express our opposition to the glorification of Ukrainian nationalists, members of the OUN and UPA – he said.

Szewczuk: we are now building a new memory

Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk stated that “the Volhynia crime is an experience that is a tragedy on both sides.” – The Polish and Ukrainian side have their injuries, their wounds resulting from the suffered suffering. In such a situation, the process of reconciliation is not only a desire to take into account our ideas, our socio-political or ecclesiastical points of view, he said.

As he added, “reconciliation between our nations is a process of healing wounds, a process of healing memory and a process of forgiveness.” He added that the wounds “we carry in our soul and conscience, both Poles and Ukrainians.”

– It is not easy to heal the pain of resentment, but as shepherds we have in our hands the balm of the Holy Spirit (…). This balm that heals wounds is mutual dialogue, forgiveness and reconciliation, as well as the prayerful presence of the Church, he continued. He assessed that the circumstances related to the war created new opportunities to go further in this process.

Read also: Prime Minister Morawiecki paid tribute to the memory of the victims of the Volhynian Massacre. In the non-existent village of Ostrówki

– The fact that Poles opened their homes is something extraordinary. The old grudges went away, and in their place came the possibility of mutual friendship. We know that Poles are the best friends, we know that they always support Ukraine, that you can always count on them. They are friends and brothers, he stressed.

– We are now building a new memory, which is positive memory. It is a gift from God that we should use not to remain slaves to the past, but to build together a better future that lies ahead of us, stressed Szewczuk.

WATCH ON TVN24 GO: Poland and Ukraine in the face of the 80th anniversary of the Volhynia massacre. “Now we should finish this dialogue”

Three postulates

Earlier, on Thursday, Father Isakowicz-Zaleski reminded that families and circles fighting for the commemoration of the Volhynia crime submitted three demands.

– First of all, the letter was a clear request to call genocide by its name, without euphemisms, without half-truths. And unfortunately, in this information, which was sent by the Polish Bishops’ Conference, there is an invitation to celebrate “tragic events in Volhynia”. We don’t agree with that. A “tragic event” could be a hurricane or an earthquake. And it was genocide, he said.

He noted that the families demanded a dignified burial of the victims. – Neither the state side nor the church side is taking any real action. This topic is overlooked. There is talk of forgiveness, reconciliation, but there is no question that these victims have not been buried, he reserved.

According to Father Isakowicz-Zaleski, the third obstacle on the road to reconciliation is “the glorification of criminals.” – The head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, is to be present at the church celebrations, and yet it is the Greek Catholic Church that still glorifies criminals and considers them national heroes – he said.

The church’s celebration of the 80th anniversary of the Volyn tragedy will end on Sunday in Lutsk, Ukraine. After the ceremony in Warsaw, delegations of both Churches will go to Ukraine to the village of Parosla, which was the site of the first attack of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army unit on the Polish countryside. There, at 11 am local time, a field holy mass will be celebrated, presided over by Archbishop Gądecki.

Volyn slaughter

The crime in Parosła in the Sarny district was the first attack of a unit of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army on a Polish village. It is considered to be the beginning of the genocide against Poles, called the Volhynia massacre. The mass murder took place on February 9, 1943, a few weeks after the decision to start the mobilization of UPA forces was made.

The “Dowbeszki-Korobki” unit led by Hryhorij Perehijniak entered Parosła, presenting itself as a Soviet partisan unit. Residents were persuaded to lie down on the floor in their homes and let themselves be bound. This way they would avoid suspicion and revenge the Germans for “voluntarily” hosting and feeding the guerrillas. The bound Poles were murdered with axes, not sparing women and children. 12 wounded people survived the slaughter. The youngest of the victims of the crime in Parosła was several months old.

After leaving Parosła, Perehijniak’s unit murdered 15 Poles in Topty. He also planned an attack on the nearby Wydymer, but the attack was abandoned due to the failure of another UPA unit to arrive.

Duda on the Volhynia massacre: we want the truth, we want graves (recording from July 2022)TVN24

The murdered were buried in a mass grave. On the mound of the mass grave in 1974, a local Ukrainian, Anton Dorofijewicz Kowalczuk, erected a commemorative cross with the information that the crime was committed by his compatriots. After Ukraine regained its independence, a plaque with the names of the murdered families was placed next to the cross. “Behind them hardships, behind them torment … To those who have gone forever – Holy Memory” – reads the inscription commemorating them.

Perehijniak, who was responsible for the crime, died on February 22, 1943 in Wysock, Volhynia, in a clash with the Germans. It was a consequence of his attack on the post of the German military police and their collaborators in Włodzimierz on the night of February 7/8, 1943.

Main photo source: PAP/Rafał Guz



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