Father Wojciech Lemanski with parishioners in Jasienica, Sunday evening. Photo: PAP/Leszek Szymanski
Father Wojciech Lemanski officially ceased to be vicar of the village parish of Jasienica, central Poland, at 9 pm on Sunday night, following a decision issued by Archbishop Henryk Hoser on 5 July.
However, Father Lemanski has not vacated his quarters, and his parishioners gathered in a show of solidarity on Sunday evening.
The Church offered Lemanski a place at an ecclesiastical retirement home, or the freedom to work alongside a vicar at a different parish, provided he can find a priest who will take him in.
The 52-year-old, who says he is appealing against the decision, claims that the problem stems from a meeting in January 2010 with Archbishop Hoser over Jewish matters.
Lemanski told TOK FM that Hoser suggested that “this is not a circle that is worth having contacts with.”
The priest also said that the archbishop asked if he is circumcised and whether he “belonged to that nation.”
Lemanski is a member of the Polish Council of Christians and Jews, and is one of the few Polish clergyman to have taken part in ceremonies at Jedwabne, north east Poland, site of a WWII massacre carried out by ethnic Poles against Jews in July 1941.
However, Archbishop Hoser declared in a statement that the reason for the dismissal is “lack of respect and obedience to the bishops, as well as to the teaching of diocesan bishops in Poland on bioethics issues.”
Father Lemanski had spoken out against clergymen who had criticised IVF treatment and its alleged consequences. With the government now providing state-funding for the treatment, the Episcopate made a decisive statement last month that (IVF) “can cause undesirable genetic and health-related effects.”
Meanwhile, the Polish Council of Christians and Jews has released a statement supporting Father Lemanski.
“We are glad that he is among us, we are grateful to him for his activity and we believe that his work is good for the Church, the Jews, and Poland,” the statement stressed. (nh)