Monday, August 30, 2004

At rest

The ever-complex and contradictory Polish sentiment toward the similarly characterized Czeslaw Milosz gave rise to protests regarding his funeral.

Earlier this week, a handful of right-wingers demonstrated against plans to bury Milosz, who died on Aug. 14 aged 93, in the Crypt of Honour at a monastery in Krakow, saying he had betrayed Poland with his liberal views and a brief flirtation with communism.

The protests, supported by fringe nationalist media, had embarrassed Polish authorities and delayed the decision on where the poet would be buried.

The protests were muzzled hours before the ceremony, when newspapers published a letter from Polish-born Pope John Paul II saying he shared the same spiritual goals as the poet.


His opponents criticise him for having served as a diplomat for communist Poland between 1946 and 1950, for having described himself as Lithuanian — he was born in what is now Lithuania in 1911 — and for criticising some aspects of Polish Catholicism.

According to the newspaper Milosz had said that the Bible was a "cruel and depressing book".

Ceremonies were conducted without disruption.

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