Poland: Calls for unity at Mayor of Gdansk's funeral

  • Jo Siedlecka
  • (Updated )

Pawel Adamowicz - image FB

Pawel Adamowicz - image FB

Many thousands of people have paid tribute to murdered Polish mayor Pawel Adamowicz, in vigils across Poland. On Friday his body lay in state at Gdańsk's European Solidarity Centre. Banners with giant photographs of Adamowicz were hung on many buildings through the city. On Saturday, 3,500 mourners gathered inside St Mary's Basilica for his funeral while an estimated 45,000 watched the service on giant screens. Among the mourners was Polish president Andrzej Duda, prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki, EU president Donald Tusk and the former President and Nobel Peace Prize winner Lech Walesa.

During his homily, Gdansk Archbishop Slawoj Leszek Glodz called for an end to Poland's political divisions, referring to the mayor's murder as a "bell calling for alarm." "Our homeland needs harmony in politics," he said.

In a eulogy which drew applause inside and outside the basilica, Dominican priest and anti-communist activist Fr Ludwik Wiśniewski said: "I am convinced that Paweł would want me to say the following words…. Poland can not remain indifferent to the spreading poison of hatred in the streets, in the media, in the internet, in schools, in parliament and also in the church… We must end hate. We must end hate speech. We must end contempt. We must end baseless accusations against others."

During the service, Arabic prayers were sung by a representative of Gdańsk's tiny Muslim Tartar community.

In her eulogy, Adamowicz's widow, Magdalena, quoted her late husband's last words to the crowd at the charity concert before he was attacked: "This is a wonderful time to share what is good. You are all so lovely, Gdańsk is the most wonderful city in the world."

Tributes have been sent from around the world. In New York, Ronald S Lauder President of the World Jewish Congress said the organisation was "shocked and disturbed by the horrific attack" and extended we their deepest sympathies and condolences to his family and constituents.

"Mayor Adamowicz was a leading voice of opposition against far-right extremism, and a proponent of equal rights and security for all citizens of Poland. He was a true friend of the Jewish community, speaking loudly and clearly against antisemitism in Poland. This was an attack not just on the mayor, but on the very value of tolerance.

"It is our deep hope that this horrific murder will not dissuade proponents of democracy and acceptance from continuing to embrace and promote these very messages that Mayor Adamowicz carried throughout his life and career."

Janusz Sikora-Sikorski, KC SG, who organised the Polish Centenary Concert at the Royal Albert Hall in London in November, said: "This heinous crime of an innocent man, a public servant, is more than just a terrible evil by a mentally ill criminal. It is a challenge to all Poles to come forward and help create an inclusive, pluralistic and peaceful Poland so that the whole political environment where hatred fosters is dispelled and healed with love and understanding. The divided population within Poland, akin to that in the UK, must be peacefully and respectfully reconciled. It is not only the responsibility of all politicians to bring this about but it is also our responsibility.

May the senseless and public murder of Pawel Adamowicz be directed as a prayerful outcry to the Lord for his divine intervention in all our lives."

See also: ICN 16 January 2019 - Poland: Gdansk in mourning for assassinated Mayor Adamowicz

Tags: Poland, Gdansk, Pawel Adamowicz, Jan Sikora-Sikorski, Donald Tusk, Lech Walesa

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