CATHOLIC CLERGY in Poland are still targets of intimidation and violence, with more priests murdered in the last ten years than in the previous three decades of communist rule, according to one Polish priest.
"In such an unclear situation, it's impossible to say who, if anyone, is behind this," said Fr Stanislaw Malkowski, following the publication of Priest-killers Among Us, a book containing new information about the July 1989 murder of Fr Sylwester Zych, a Catholic priest previously linked to the Solidarity movement. "But the clergy feels more threatened now than under communist rule. The Church should be addressing the problem, amassing data and demanding action."
Fr Zych was jailed for four years for alleged involvement in the 1982 fatal shooting of a police official on a Warsaw streetcar, but was allowed to serve his sentence under Church supervision. He was found dead after being released. Although 17 volumes of evidence were collected on the priest's death, the case was closed without charges by the Appeal Court.
Fr Malkowski went on to say that in cases of murdered priests, the percentage of apprehended killers was "much lower" than the national average, and that there was evidence that some murders had been committed by professionals, who in many cases tortured priests first without stealing anything of significance.
• A leading Polish Bishop has marked the traditional August "month of sobriety" by ordering priests to refuse Christian burials to illegal alcohol traders.
"As the community of faithful, we must fight drinking and cannot remain passive," said Bishop Aloizy Orszulik of Lowicz. 'We must condemn moonlighters and bootleggers, all those making a fortune out of human weaknesses; we will deny them church funerals."