Demonstrators in Poland defend late pope John Paul II
published : 2 Apr 2023 at 19:45
WARSAW - Demonstrators gathered in Poland Sunday to defend the reputation of late pope John Paul II, who has been accused of having concealed crimes of paedophilia while he was archbishop of Krakow.
On horseback, wearing historical costumes or draped with the flags of the Vatican and Poland -- a traditionally Catholic nation -- thousands turned out for the "National march for the pope" in Warsaw, AFP journalists saw.
The events to honour John Paul II, who died on April 2, 2005, were planned by Catholic organisations with the open support of the government and ruling national populist party PiS.
"As every honest man defends his children, father and mother, all of Poland defends John Paul II," read one placard carried by demonstrators.
Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Twitter that "we pass the test of carrying the truth, which must oppose lies, slander and insults."
PiS leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski in a letter to the ruling party said "we thank God for this immeasurable gift that the Polish Pope was and remains for the Church, for Poland and for the world."
"We stand to defend his honour and his good name," Kaczynski said, months ahead of legislative elections in Poland.
The same day, a monument of John Paul II was defaced at Lodz, a city in central Poland, with the statue's hands covered in red paint and vandalised with the inscription "Maxima culpa" -- a Latin phrase meaning "most grievous fault".
This inscription made a reference to the book by Dutch journalist Ekke Overbeek titled "Maxima Culpa" that was recently released in Poland.
The book and a similar investigation aired by private broadcaster TVN claimed the then future pope had concealed paedophilia, which has since provoked a debate among the government and church.