Radio Maryja

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To be distinguished from Italy-based international Catholic radio broadcasting service Radio Maria.
Radio Maryja
Type Wholly owned subsidiary of Fundacja Lux Veritatis
Industry Radio broadcasting
Founded 1991
Headquarters Toruń, Poland
Key people Fr Tadeusz Rydzyk - Founder and Director; Fr Jan Król - Vice-director
Website RadioMaryja.pl

Radio Maryja [ˈradjɔ maˈrɨja] is a religious and political socially conservative Polish radio station. It was founded in Toruń, Poland, on December 9, 1991, by the Redemptorist Tadeusz Rydzyk, often called "Father Director". The Radio Maryja Family is a religious movement led by Fr Rydzyk. The name "Maryja" is a traditional Polish form of the name "Mary", referring to the Virgin Mary.

Programme schedule[edit]

Radio Maryja's programmes consist of broadcasts from the station's news agency; frequent recitals of the rosary, the breviary, and the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy; the unction to the Black Madonna of Częstochowa; discussions on the Catechism of the Catholic Church; a daily transmission of the Mass; coverage of papal trips; and sociological and political programmes.[1]

Ownership and finances[edit]

The station is owned by the Warsaw Province of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, and is financed through donations from its audience. This is an unusual characteristic in Poland, where most radio stations are either publicly funded or dependent on advertising revenue. Due to a concordat with the Vatican that grants certain privileges to the Church, Radio Maryja is not bound by normal accounting rules as it is regarded as being Church-operated. Thus, Radio Maryja is not required to disclose the exact sources of its financing or enterprises, and does not pay taxes.[2] Radio Maryja has disclosed that it is financed by Jan Kobylański, a Uruguay-based billionaire [3] and by Edward Moskal, the chairman of the Polish American Congress.[4][5]

In February 2011, the local district court of Toruń issued a fine of 3,500 zlotys to Fr Rydzyk, finding that he illegally used Radio Maryja broadcasts to raise funds for his television station, Telewizja Trwam; his University of Social and Media Culture; and a geothermal drilling project run by Fundacja Lux Veritatus. Fr Rydzyk denounced the verdict, calling it an "injustice" and claiming that Polish law ran "contrary to natural law."[6] To date, he has refused to pay the fine. In August 2012, a political controversy transpired when Anna Sobecka, a Law and Justice MP and close ally of Fr Rydzyk's, applied to pay the fine from her own pocket despite not having the authorization to do so. The district court of Toruń requested that the police investigate her action.[7] Later in 2012 Radio Maryja was fined by the National Broadcasting Council for “hidden advertising”.[8]

Audience[edit]

Radio Maryja's audience is reputed to consist mostly of rural, elderly listeners.[9] The station claims that it has "millions of listeners"; market research indicates approximately 1.2 million people daily. The station estimates that it is listened to by well over 10% of adults in Poland;[10] the most comprehensive market research by Radio Track[11] for the whole of Poland (June–July 2005) shows a 2.5% "share of listening time".[12]

The Economist has summarized that, "The church in Poland is divided between Vatican loyalists, who often oppose close involvement in politics, and energetic dissidents linked to Radio Maryja, a hardline broadcaster. This once had huge clout, articulating the feelings of Poles alienated by the country's brisk, materialist business culture and the decay in moral norms. But Radio Maryja's audience has shrunk in the past decade to no more than 2% of all current listeners."[13][14]

Radio Maryja Family[edit]

The station has gathered a large group of committed listeners, the Radio Maryja Family (Rodzina Radia Maryja), of which Fr Rydzyk is a leader.[15] As of November 2006, the Radio Maryja Family network had six-hundred clubs and offices across Poland.[16] The movement holds a pilgrimage to Częstochowa every year, which in 2006 attracted about 500,000 people. Representatives of the Radio Maryja Family visited the Vatican five times during the papacy of Pope John Paul II.

While the conventional greeting in the Roman Catholic Church is, "Praised be Jesus Christ", the Radio Maryja Family uses, "Praised be Jesus Christ and Mary, ever Virgin."

Related enterprises[edit]

The Radio Maryja headquarters are housed in a modern building amid gardens on the outskirts of Toruń.

Enterprises related to Radio Maryja — and independent of Vatican authorities — initiated by Fr Rydzyk, include the television station Trwam ("I Persist");[2] a daily newspaper Nasz Dziennik ("Our Daily"); the Nasza Przyszłość ("Our Future") Foundation; the Lux Veritatis Foundation ("The Light of Truth Foundation"); and the Wyższa Szkoła Kultury Społecznej i Medialnej ("The College of Social and Media Culture") in Toruń. Until recently, the rector of the College was Fr Rydzyk.

Criticisms and controversies[edit]

Radio Maryja sparked many controversies and is frequently being criticized both in Poland and abroad.[17][18][19][20][21][22] Damian Thompson, the Editor-in-Chief of The Catholic Herald, described Radio Maryja as "one of the creepiest radio stations in the world".[23]

Bishop Tadeusz Pieronek, the former secretary general of the Episcopate of Poland, said that Radio Maryja is "a real and growing problem", adding that the station "offers a reduced view on Christianity" that is "extremely compromising and shameful, sick and dangerous."[24]

According to Anti-Defamation League, the radio has promoted ″a narrative based on nationalist extremism, anti-Semitism and conspiracy theory″ since its inception.[25]

Conflict with the Vatican[edit]

The Vatican has expressed concern about the station, with the Episcopate of Poland warning Radio Maryja about engaging in "political broadcasting".[26] Cardinal Stanisław Dziwisz of Kraków and the country's then Primate, Cardinal Józef Glemp, have urged fellow bishops to take immediate action against the station. In 2002, the Primate ordered Radio Maryja to close its operations in his archdiocese.[27] Press commentators suggested that a schism could occur, but a group of Polish bishops rejected those speculations, which they said "bore no relation to reality". In 2005, Cardinal Józef Glemp said that Radio Maryja was causing a rift in the Church.[28]

In 2006, the papal nuncio to Poland, Archbishop Józef Kowalczyk, wrote to Polish bishops requesting their aid "to overcome difficulties caused by some transmissions and the views presented by Radio Maryja."[29] He also warned of sanctions against activity “considered unlawful or damaging to the Church”.[30] According to the official Vatican web page, "Radio Maryja, a nation-wide radio system organised by the Redemptorist Fathers, became much more involved in spreading risky politics than in spreading the Gospel."[31] Pope Benedict XVI warned Radio Maryja to quit engaging in politics.[32]

Divisions in the Polish Church[edit]

However, the Polish bishops remain divided over Radio Maryja, given its considerable influence among its primary audience of the elderly rural poor.[33] While some bishops have criticized Radio Maryja for spreading opinions incompatible with the official teaching of the Catholic Church,[34] others voice support for the station.[35][36] Critics note that the Polish bishops have been divided over Radio Maryja for a long time.[37]

Lech Wałęsa, the Nobel Prize laureate and former president of Poland, has stated that Radio Maryja "is lying if it considers itself a Catholic station".[38] According to a 2013 article in the Polish Roman Catholic weekly magazine Tygodnik Powszechny, Radio Maryja is destroying the Church in Poland.[39]

Allegations of intolerance[edit]

Critics claim that the station uses propaganda which emphasizes nationalism, anti-Semitism, anti-communism and anti-German prejudice.[40] A United States Department of State report refers to Radio Maryja as a "Catholic nationalist radio station".[41]

Allegations of antisemitism[edit]

Critics argue that Radio Maryja propagates extreme anti-Semitism, including concepts such as żydokomuna — the conspiracy theory blaming Jews for the rise of communism in Poland.[42][43] Poland's Media Ethics Council has referred to the station's "weakly documented accusations" against Jews as "primitive anti-Semitism"[29] and condemned Radio Maryja.[44] In January 2000, Radio Maryja aired an interview between Ryszard Bender, a historian from the Catholic University of Lublin, and Dariusz Ratajczak, a convicted Holocaust denier who claimed that Auschwitz was a labor camp rather than an extermination camp.[45][46][47]

In April 2006, well-known Polish essayist Stanisław Michalkiewicz — a major personality on Telewizja Trwam — was reported in Gazeta Wyborcza as stating that "men from Judea ... are trying to surprise us from behind", and referring to the World Jewish Congress as "a main firm in the Holocaust Industry".[29][48] Michalkiewicz responded by calling Gazeta Wyborcza "an unusual example of the Jewish fifth column in Poland" and "a Jewish newspaper for Poles."

The charges of anti-Semitism against Radio Maryja have brought the station to worldwide attention.[43] A report of the Council of Europe stated that Radio Maryja has been "openly inciting to antisemitism for several years" and that there is "a lack of effective implementation of measures intended to prohibit antisemitic acts and statements" in Poland.[49] The Simon Wiesenthal Center initiated a petition condemning Fr Rydzyk's alleged anti-Semitic statements.[50][51] In July 2007, over seven-hundred[52] Polish Catholic intellectuals, journalists, priests and activists signed a public letter of protest condemning Fr Rydzyk's anti-Semitic remarks.[53][54]

According to a U.S. State Department report from 2008, "Radio Maryja is one of Europe’s most blatantly anti-Semitic media venues".[55] In 2011 the Polish Broadcasting Authority Commission examined two programs on Radio Maryja and reprimanded the station for its antisemitic statements and "nationalistic racism".[56]

Involvement in politics[edit]

Jarosław Kaczyński, the former Prime Minister of Poland, was a regular guest on Radio Maryja,[57] as were other far-right-wing politicians such as Andrzej Lepper, Roman Giertych, and Zbigniew Ziobro. When it became aware of the station's service to conservative parties, the Vatican demanded that it "drop the politics."[58] Asked whether Fr Rydzyk would himself form a party, Bishop Pieronek replied that he could not imagine a priest starting a political organization.[59] Bp. Pieronek drew an analogy saying that Hitler also took advantage of religion for his political purposes with the use of the motto Gott mit uns.[60]

Radio Maryja strongly opposed Poland joining of the European Union in 2004.[61] The station promoted the political program of the Law and Justice party,[62] which together with Lech Kaczyński sought to introduce the capital punishment in Poland and throughout Europe.[63][64][65][66] The support for death penalty contrasts strongly with the mainstream teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.[67]

In February 2006, Law and Justice signed a key agreement with two other political parties. To the fury of the Polish press, only Fr Rydzyk and journalists from Telewizja Trwam — who actively supported Law and Justice during the election — were allowed in the room during the signing. The President of the Polish National Broadcasting Council, Elzbieta Kruk, stated that she had no authority to act in regard to these complaints, as she had been appointed by the Polish President Lech Kaczyński, a member of Law and Justice. Critics asserted that the government feared of alienating Radio Maryja's dedicated audience, which makes up a significant fraction of Law and Justice's political base.[29]

In March 2006, Polish literary critic and television personality Kazimiera Szczuka satirized a girl who frequently recites prayers on Radio Maryja, not knowing that the girl used a wheelchair. Despite Szczuka's public apology, the Polish Broadcasting Council found her guilty of "insulting a disabled person and mocking her religion." The station on which she had appeared was fined the equivalent of $125,000;[29] according to the Polish press, the highest fine the Council had ever levied. The sole dissenting member of the Council, Wojciech Dziomdziora, speculated that Radio Maryja's ties with Law and Justice was "the real reason" for Szczuka's punishment, noting that Szczuka was made to pay the stiff fine while Radio Maryja was allowed to disparage other religions with impunity.[29]

In June 2011 Fr Rydzyk was invited to speak at the European Parliament.[68][69] He spoke "in defense of media freedom in Poland" and drew attention to the situation of TV Trwam, the television arm of Radio Maryja, taken off the air due to a dispute over its broadcast license.[20]

In September 2012, Radio Maryja and TV Trwam organized a "Poland awake!" demonstration with both Law and Justice and the Solidarity trade union to protest the centrist government's purported attempt to silence both stations by not including them on the country's digital television multiplex. The demonstration led to renewed criticism of the station's politicized message from high-ranking Catholic clergymen. Bishop Piotr Jarecki, a vice president in the Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Community, said in an interview that the stations' action was "not in accordance with the doctrine of the Church," and said that they were "entering a dangerous path of confusion and turmoil."[70]

Remarks about President Lech Kaczyński and wife[edit]

In 2007, Polish first lady Maria Kaczyńska met with fifty female journalists for International Women's Day; the women signed a statement to protest a tightening of Poland's already strict abortion laws.[71] Fr Rydzyk caused controversy when he described the meeting as a "cesspool". Later, the newsmagazine Wprost published a recording from one of Fr Rydzyk's lectures in which he allegedly called Kaczyńska "a witch who should perform euthanasia on herself." He also claimed that President Lech Kaczyński "cheated" him, and called him "a swindler who had bowed to pressure from the Jewish lobby." Fr Rydzyk suggested the tapes were doctored and called the story "fictitious".[72][73]

Archbishop Jozef Michalik said that no disciplinary action would be taken against the director of Radio Maryja - "You can't judge a person from just one statement, or on the basis of some lack of tact".[74]

In 2012, Radio Maryja, which has long criticized Freemasonry, broadcast an interview claiming that the plane crash which killed President Kaczyński two years earlier — among "many other acts" — was the result of a Masonic plot against the Law and Justice party.[75]

Supporters and their response to criticism[edit]

Enthusiasts of the station claim that Radio Maryja is a target of the media which have waged a "smear campaign"[76] and that bigoted statements transmitted by the station are very rare and originate from its listeners rather than employees.[77]

The former cabinet of Jarosław Kaczyński openly supported Radio Maryja. In December 2006, Kaczyński joined the 15th anniversary celebrations of Radio Maryja and praised the station as a source of "comfort and hope".[78][79]

Following international criticism in 2006, Poland's bishops’ conference assumed partial control of the station's new programme council and praised Radio Maryja.[80] A Support Team of Radio Maryja has been formed "in the service of God, the Church, Homeland and the Polish Nation".[81]

Support for Radio Maryja is often voiced in "Nasz Dziennik", which is related to the station.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ [1][dead link]
  2. ^ a b "Controversial Polish Catholics enter TV". BBC News. February 13, 2003. Retrieved May 22, 2010. 
  3. ^ IPN - review of the media
  4. ^ Radio Maryja - Katolicki Głos w Twoim Domu
  5. ^ Cas Mudde (2005). "Rafal Pankowski and Marcin Kornak, "Poland"". Racist Extremism in Central and Eastern Europe. London: Routledge. p. 168. ISBN 0-415-35593-1. OCLC 55228719. 
  6. ^ "O. Tadeusz Rydzyk ukarany za nielegalną zbiórkę'". Wirtualna Polska. Retrieved 3 July 2011. 
  7. ^ "Sobecka cierpi za o. Rydzyka. Zapłaci grzywnę, bo... zapłaciła grzywnę?". Wprost. Retrieved 1 September 2011. 
  8. ^ More mess for Radio Maryja, New Poland Express, 6th April 2012
  9. ^ Mixed Reception for Polish Catholic Radio - washingtonpost.com
  10. ^ Walton, Nicholas (October 1, 2002). "Polish Cardinal tackles radical radio". BBC News. Retrieved May 22, 2010. 
  11. ^ "::radio||track::". Radiotrack.pl. Retrieved 2011-10-03. 
  12. ^ [2][dead link]
  13. ^ "God-bothered". The Economist. March 15, 2007. 
  14. ^ Edward Lucas (2007-03-15). "Edward Lucas: Religion in the CEE region". Edwardlucas.blogspot.com. 
  15. ^ Phenomenon of Radio Virgin Mary
  16. ^ (Polish) http://www.warsawvoice.pl/archiwum.phtml/13037/
  17. ^ Poland: The controversy involving Radio Maryja, Vatican Insider
  18. ^ Resurgence in popularity for controversial Radio Maryja, Catholic Culture
  19. ^ Controversial radio station thanks God for Geremek’s death?, Radio Polonia
  20. ^ a b Controversial Polish radio station owner invited to European Parliament, The Telegraph
  21. ^ Controversial Catholic Radio Maryja enters politics, Radio Polonia, 05.01.2007
  22. ^ Controversial Catholic radio boss slams president over Jews, Krakow Post, July 22, 2007
  23. ^ Catholic station in anti-Semitism row, The Telegraph
  24. ^ [3][dead link]
  25. ^ http://archive.adl.org/international/polanddemocracyandextremism.pdf
  26. ^ Episcopate warns Radio Maryja on 'political broadcasting’, Polskie Radio, January 1, 2007
  27. ^ Furore over Polish radio station, The Tablet
  28. ^ Poland's Primate lambasts Radio Maryja
  29. ^ a b c d e f "LETTER FROM POLAND; Differing Treatment of Religious Slurs Raises an Old Issue", The New York Times, May 3, 2006. Accessed April 4, 2008
  30. ^ Vatican warns Polish radio station, The Tablet
  31. ^ Culture e fede - Cultures et foi - Cultures and Faith - Culturas y fe - 1/2000 - Plenaria 2000 (2)
  32. ^ Polish Populists: Papal Reprimand for Catholic Radio, Spiegel, 2006
  33. ^ Polish Cardinal condemns priest accused of anti-Semitism on radio, Voice of America, September 5, 2007
  34. ^ (Polish) http://www.warsawvoice.pl/archiwum.phtml/2123/
  35. ^ Poland’s Radio Maryja Known For Its Bigotry, and Its Influence, The Jewish Daily Forward, 2010
  36. ^ Cardinal calls for sacking of radio priest, The Tablet, 2007
  37. ^ [4][5][6]
  38. ^ Ojciec Rydzyk i Radio Maryja - Raporty - Kraj - Gazeta.pl
  39. ^ Kto niszczy polski Kościół (Who is destroying the Polish Church), Tygodnik Powszechny
  40. ^ euro|topics - Is Poland's democracy in danger?
  41. ^ U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 2006 - Poland
  42. ^ Antisemitism And Racism
  43. ^ a b Watt, Nicholas (June 5, 2006). "Anti-semitism live". The Guardian (London). Retrieved May 22, 2010. 
  44. ^ Bishops take control of controversial radio station, The Tablet
  45. ^ [7][dead link]
  46. ^ [8][dead link]
  47. ^ "Stephen Roth Institute: Antisemitism And Racism". Tau.ac.il. Retrieved 2011-10-03. 
  48. ^ "Nieaktualny odnośnik do artykułu". Michalkiewicz.pl. Retrieved 2011-10-03. 
  49. ^ Poland_CBC_3
  50. ^ Simon Wiesenthal Center
  51. ^ See a video of Rabbi Marvin Hier talking about the "Jew-hating" Father Rydzyk
  52. ^ Associated, The (2010-11-12). "Hundreds in Poland condemn priest's words as anti-Semitic - Haaretz Daily Newspaper | Israel News". Haaretz.com. Retrieved 2011-10-03. 
  53. ^ News Releases - Simon Wiesenthal Center
  54. ^ The signed letter: [9], in Polish
  55. ^ Contemporary Global Anti-Semitism, a report provided to the United States Congress, U.S. Dept. of State, March 13, 2008
  56. ^ Accusations of antisemitism on Radio Maryja, CFCA
  57. ^ Poland: Democracy and the Challenge of Extremism
  58. ^ Polskie Radio dla zagranicy - Vatican orders Radio Maryja to ‘drop the politics’
  59. ^ Warsaw Voice - Wałęsa at War
  60. ^ Bishop Attacks PiS, Newzar
  61. ^ Reluctantly European?
  62. ^ [10]
  63. ^ Europe and Central Asia: Summary of Amnesty International's Concerns in the Region: July - December 2006
  64. ^ "Polish leader backs death penalty". BBC News. July 28, 2006. 
  65. ^ [11]
  66. ^ "Lech Kaczynski: Polish President and co-founder of the Law and Justice Party". The Independent (London). April 13, 2010. 
  67. ^ Declaration of the Holy See to the First World Congress on the Death Penalty
  68. ^ Tories' European group split over Polish priest accused of antisemitism, article in The Guardian
  69. ^ Controversial Polish priest invited at European Parliament Conference, article in EJU News
  70. ^ Biskup Piotr Jarecki wystąpił przeciwko PiS i TV Trwam." Dziennik. 25 October 2012
  71. ^ Poland's Balancing Act: The Left Wing, the Far Right and the Kaczynskis - International - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News
  72. ^ Published 8 July, 2007, text and sound in Polish
  73. ^ "Stir over priest's 'anti-Semitic remarks'". BBC News. July 13, 2007. Retrieved May 22, 2010. 
  74. ^ Rydzyk escapes censure from bishops, The Tablet
  75. ^ Ekspert ojca Rydzyka: Smoleńsk to akt masonów!, Fakt.pl, 27 August 2012 [Retrieved 1 September 2012]
  76. ^ Radio Maryja as the target of the media, Sunday - Catholic Magazine, "Niedziela" 17/2006
  77. ^ Sunday - Catholic Magazine
  78. ^ Gera, Vanessa (2006-12-07). "Poland PM Praises Catholic Radio Station". Washingtonpost.com. Retrieved 2011-10-03. 
  79. ^ "Search - Global Edition - The New York Times". International Herald Tribune. 2009-03-29. Retrieved 2011-10-03. 
  80. ^ Bishops take control of controversial radio station, The Tablet
  81. ^ Support Team of Radio Maryja in the service of God, the Church, Homeland and the Polish Nation, Sunday - Catholic Magazine, "Niedziela" 27/2011

External links[edit]