The Catholic University of Lublin (KUL) failed to take disciplinary action against a priest-professor who claimed that Jews have carried out ritual murder against Christians, on the grounds that this is “part of a still unsettled academic discussion.”
The statement in question was made by Father Tadeusz Guz, a professor at the KUL, Poland’s foremost Catholic university. While giving a lecture in Warsaw in May 2018, he said: “We know that the facts of ritual murders cannot be erased from history…because we, the Polish state, have in our archives, in surviving documents, we have through the ages – when Jews lived together with our Polish nation – we have binding rulings after ritual murders.”
After Guz’s lecture, the Polish Council of Christians and Jews had formally protested against his “absolutely unacceptable” words.
“Accusations against Jews for ritually murdering Christians, although officially rejected by the church, unfortunately still return in the imagination of some Catholics,” wrote the Council. “We appeal to the archbishop and the rector to take strict disciplinary measures against the person who advocates such anti-Jewish, but also anti-Catholic, statements,” they continued.
In response, the rector of KUL, Antoni Dębiński, and Lublin’s archbishop, Stanisław Budzik, released a statement saying that they found Guz’s statements to be “unacceptable”, noting however that they had been made privately, outside of his work at the university.
Dębiński nevertheless referred the case to KUL’s disciplinary officer, who in October 2020, decided to discontinue proceedings.
Among the justifications for this decision, the relevant committee noted that Guz had been expressing “private views…outside the workplace”. It added that, while they “could be difficult for Jewish communities to accept, they were not slander or lies, but knowledge gained from academic analysis of available source materials”.
The committee also claimed that the issue in question is “part of a still unsettled academic discussion”. As such, Guz’s statement should be seen as “part of the academic discourse on this issue, which, it should be emphasised, still remains unresolved”.
This position was met with an angry response by Zygmunt Stępiński, director of the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews, who expressed “amazement and indignation” at the decision not to discipline Guz.
“[While] respecting the autonomy of the university, I cannot remain silent when the world receives a statement straight from The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, Nazi or Stalinist propaganda,” Stępiński wrote. “Let me remind you that in the not-too-distant past, similar statements led directly to social unrest and bloodshed.”
“I must protest publicly and call on the university authorities to take a clear position on this matter,” added Stępiński, in his open letter to KUL’s new rector, Mirosław Kalinowski.
KUL’s decision was also condemned by the Never Again Association, a leading Polish anti-racism NGO. Its director, Rafał Pankowski, told the Algemeiner that Guz’s “whole lecture was antisemitic”.
Guz “argued that Jews as a community have failed God by not converting to Christianity”, that the Talmud was based on “lies”, and that Karl Marx was a “Jewish nationalist”, said Pankowski, who also noted that Guz has given antisemitic lectures in the past, including claiming that Jews financed Hitler and the Holocaust.
Conspiracy myths about ritual murder and kidnapping are still widely believed in Poland today. A survey conducted by the Centre for Research on Prejudice at the University of Warsaw in 2017 found that 24.5% of Poles agreed that “such kidnappings took place”. That figure had risen from 10.3% in 2009.
In a statement, the KUL declared: “Allegations of ritual murder against the followers of Judaism are unjustifiable and untrue. We strongly disagree with allegations of that sort. They are unfounded both in research and historical facts. The University holds the position expressed by the Popes condemning allegations of ritual murder.”