Monday, November 26, 2018

Hanging Polish Insurgents by Stanisław Witkiewicz

Hanging Polish insurgents by Stanisław Witkiewicz
source Wikipedia 

On the Baltic at Palanga by Stanislaw Witkiewicz
Source: Wikipedia 

Thursday, November 15, 2018

American Liberals March for Anti-Semitism, Murder, Torture, and Jihad!!!


Think you'll see that headline any time soon in the New York Times, the Guardian, or on Fox News? 

Yeah, me neither. 

But -- the headline is true -- if we apply to Americans the same "logic" of those bashing decent Poles for celebrating, in their Independence Day March, their surviving over one hundred years of genocidal pressures.

American liberals marched in The Women's March, called the largest international protest ever, an historic march organized by Linda Sarsour, an anti-semite and  self-identified jihadi, whose mentor Siraj Wahhaj was an unindicted co-conspirator in the World Trade Center bombing, and featuring Donna Hylton, an ex-con who kidnapped, tortured, and murdered Thomas Vigliarolo. 

"Wait, wait, wait!" American liberals will insist. "It's more complicated than that!"

Yes. Yes, the Women's March is more complicated than its association with jihadis and torturers. 

So is Poland's Independence Day March. 

The mainstream media *does* tell you the full story about the Women's March. It *doesn't* tell you the full story of the Polish Independence Day March. 

And therein lies the  Bieganski, Brute Polak Stereotype

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Poland's Independence Day March. The Full Story ... Is Not Told Here. It Can't Be.

A couple of Polish men, living in Poland, posted on my Facebook page about the Independence Day March. One of them shared the previously linked article critical of the march. 

These Polish men emphasized that there are unsavory elements in the march. 

Me? I don't know the full story of the march. As I did last year, I post a variety of viewpoints. I caution against using the march to advance the Bieganski stereotype. I acknowledge that there are unsavory elements in Poland, that is, anti-Semites, and other thugs. You can see my posts on this topic from last year here

What is the full story of the march? I don't know. I can't know. I'm not in Poland, and I am cautious of media reports on all sides, as is necessary when it comes to controversial stories that powerful individuals and entities use to advance their own agenda. 

I invited these two Polish men to write their own accounts of the march, and submit them to me for publication here. If they comply, I will post their accounts. If they don't comply, we lose the chance to hear their point of view. 

Below please find two photos from New York Times coverage. 

One shows nationalist extremists. The other shows gay rights activists. The NYT said that this counter demo was much smaller. 

In these two images, the NYT creates an image of Poland as a land overrun with fascists, where a handful of gay rights activists bravely struggle for existence. 

We don't see, in this coverage, the hundreds of average, everyday people visible in the previously posted eleven-minute video. 

That's why I say that those of us who are not in Poland, and who rely on mainstream media, or even YouTube videos for our accounts, can't know the full story of the march. 

So. If you are in Poland, and you think we need to hear a more negative account of the march, please do send it to me. Thanks in advance. 

Adam Stepien source: NYT

Marcin Obara source: NYT


My book, Bieganski the Brute Polak Stereotype is a scholarly book. This blog is usually pretty dry. My goal is to demonstrate that Poles and other Eastern European, Christian, peasant-descent persons are stereotyped. Getting emotional does not help in that work. Facts may help. 

This morning I checked into Facebook, discovered a series of abusive posts from a stranger, and tried to ignore them. I was cleaning house, and I had to handle many items I inherited from my brother Joe, who died recently. 

And I began to cry. 

I posted the following on Facebook. I am sharing it here, unedited. 

Whiny post.

And what I want to whine about is so obscure, maybe no one reading this will have any idea of what I am trying to say.

Two things happened this morning.

I am cleaning house. I checked into Facebook.

Some troll I have never heard of, not my Facebook friend but Facebook friend of a Facebook friend, WASP first and last name, commented on one of my posts.

Gist of his post: You Polax are the scum of the earth.

Look -- is your identity something people can use to hurt you?

Is the very name of your identity something people can use to hurt you?

"Polak" is the Polish word for "Polish man."

How do you know if your house has been robbed by a Polak? The garbage can is empty and the dog is pregnant.

How do you tell a bride at a Polish wedding?

The one with the braided armpits.

How do you know if a Polak has her period?

She's wearing only one sock.

These jokes are not as popular as they once were, but they were at their height of popularity when I was in high school. A vulnerable age.

The Brute Polak stereotype is the rich, white liberal version of the Polak joke.

"You Polaks are the world's worst haters. You just marched for your Independence Day? It was a hate march. I know because I am a rich, white liberal, and a WASP, and I am better than you. Why? Because my people rule the world and you are a *POLAK*. So just shut the fuck up and let my superior, rich, white liberal ooze suffocate you."

So. First thing this morning, I take a break from cleaning house, and this is what I confront.

Scroll past. Scroll past.

I saw a post from Teri, one of my favorite Facebook friends. She saw the photo I posted of my dad in his uniform. He joined the service when he was underage.

Of my dad, Teri wrote, "So handsome. He has happy eyes."

I just wanted to burst into tears .

Because the story of my Polish immigrant-family dad joining the service when he was underage is not a happy story.

It's a freaking nightmare of a story.

And I can't tell it to you. It's *his* story.

Let's just say that when I tell this story to close friends, their jaws drop and they say, "Oh my God."

The pain. The horror. what happened to him. And then hunger and frustration and being persecuted by the Feds, hitting the rails, trying to support his family during the Depression, not speaking English well, not having so much as a grade school diploma, and finally joining the service when he was just a child ... so he and his family could eat.

I choked back tears after I read Teri's comment.

and I resumed cleaning house.

And I came across stuff I salvaged from among Joe's things.

Joe was a genius. That's not a compliment, it's an actual fact. Genius IQ. Antoinette had a genius IQ as well.

I watched them all die, and ... they had so much sorrow in their lives, and so much frustration, and they never achieved or enjoyed what they would have achieved or enjoyed if they had been born to WASP families who didn't have that burden of immigration history and wrong ethnicity.

Right now I'm wondering if anyone will understand this post. What it means to be poor, and white, and of immigrant, Bohunk stock in America.

My mother was the *best* natural writer I have ever known. As a teacher and writer I have read hundreds of people's writing. My mother was in another dimension from most people.

Her English, her second language of several, was pristine. Her vocabulary, her phrasing, her command. She could recite poetry from memory.

And she spent her life working in factories and cleaning houses, often in the same day.

And then maybe you take a shower and you go to college ... and your betters hear your name and put you in your place with a well-timed Polak joke.

And then rich, white liberals decide that you, Polak that you are, are the world's worst hater. And when you march to celebrate surviving over a hundred years of genocidal pressures, you, Polak you, must be publicly shamed. And shaming you is a righteous, holy thing to do.

I'm going to go cry now.

While I continue cleaning house.

My dad and my brother Joe. 

Independence Day March. A Critical View

A Facebook friend living in Poland recommended this article, offering a critical view of the Independence Day March. 

Monday, November 12, 2018

Polish Independence Day March on Youtube

I'm not endorsing any of these videos. I came across them after doing a search of Poland march videos. 

Warsaw Independence Day March and the Bieganski, Brute Polak Stereotype

Yesterday, November 11, 2018, I posted about a Catholic author on Facebook who shared a Marxist article that alleged that Poles are a bunch of scary fascists, Nazis, and white supremacists. 

This Catholic author quoted a Marxist article about Poland's November 11, 2018, Independence Day March. 

Here is the truth of this maligned march: Poland was colonized by Russia, Prussia, and Austria for over one hundred years. During this colonization, at various times, Poles were forbidden to speak their own language, they were forbidden from building a permanent dwelling, they were marched to Siberia, they were plied with alcohol, and they were lynched by their colonizers. Germans and Russians announced as their goal a genocide of Poles. Germans' genocidal attitudes were a minor form of Nazism before Nazism. 

In 1918, Poland regained independence. Then, in 1939, Poland was invaded by Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia, and Poland was crucified. 

And yet Poland is still here. 

Thus Poles march. We are still alive, in spite of genocidal pressures. 

The Catholic author on Facebook is not alone. I just did a Google search to find images of the march to share here. The words that Google suggested as associated with a search of Poland's Independence Day March were "white," "far right," "anti," "nationalist" and "right wing." 

The New York Times implied that the march was about the "far right." 

The BBC also alleged the march was "far right." 

The Guardian headline associated the march with the "far right." 

Fox News used "far right" first thing in its headline. 

The Independent said that "fascists" marched. 

The Wall Street Journal opened with the words "far right." 

The Times of Israel also used "far right." posted video, linked below, of the march in question. In this eleven-minute long video, which I have watched more than once, the viewer sees hundreds of Poles marching in front of the camera. 

The viewer notices several things. First, none of these Polish marchers are grotesquely overweight. Forgive me but I can't help but notice, in any US crowd scene, how overweight we have become as a nation. 

None of the marchers is dressed shabbily. Again, I can't help but notice sagged pants, sloppy clothes, and other aspects of current American attire. 

No one is shouting or pushing or giving anyone else a hard time. Poles are quiet and courteous. 

Women friends walk arm in arm. Mothers push strollers. Families walk together, fathers, mothers, and children. There are young people who are proud to be in public with their parents. 

How often do we see this in America any more? 

Most of the marchers are carrying Polish flags. When is the last time you saw Americans so eager to carry their own flag? 

Admittedly, this footage was chosen by TVP. I don't know if they edited out any scary  fascists who were present, and we know such people exist, and we know the scary fascists use Independence Day to push their agenda. 

The scary fascists in question are the Obóz Narodowo-Radykalny. You can read more about this group here

Me? If I were lucky enough to be in Poland on the hundredth anniversary of Poland regaining her independence, after being colonized for over a hundred years by Russia, Prussia, and Austria, after surviving the crucifixion of the Nazi and Soviet invasions and occupations, wild horses could not prevent me from participating in the Independence Day March. I'd probably be crying every step of the way. 

And I would not march alongside the small group of ONR marchers. 

Why is that so hard to understand? That we can love Poland not be "far right," "fascist," "white supremacist," etc? 

The answer is in my book, "Bieganski the Brute Polak Stereotype." Read it and you will understand why even nominal Catholics become fellow travelers with Marxists when they talk about Poles and Poland. 

There are scary fascists in the US as well. It was in the US, after all, that eleven innocent Jews at prayer were recently murdered by an evil monster invested in a conspiracy theory about immigration, a conspiracy theory disseminated by the team associated with the most powerful man in the world. Donald Trump himself has disseminated this anti-Semitic conspiracy theory about immigrants and immigration, namely, that George Soros is paying immigrants to enter the US. 

Before Americans point the finger at Poles, Americans should look at their own house. 

And watch this eleven minute video of marching Poles. Patriotic, proud, decent, Poles. Be inspired. 

You can view's video here

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Poland and Israel Issue Joint Stamp to Celebrate Anniversaries

"The Polish and Israeli post offices have released a stamp marking the 100th anniversary of Poland regaining its independence and the 70th anniversary of the creation of Israel.

The stamp went into circulation in both countries on November 5, and were created, Poczta Polska says, to celebrate both the anniversaries and a long shared history.

In a press release Poczta Polska said the series, entitled ‘Poland-Israel. Independence. Memory. Heritage,’ is “to commemorate both anniversaries this year as well as the centuries-old common history the two nations share.”

Bearing a price, in Poland, of PLN 2.60 the stamp shows both the Israeli and Polish flags with the mottos ‘Israel - 70 Years of Independence’ and ‘Poland – 100 Years of Independence’ in Polish, English and Hebrew...

This is the third time the two post offices have launched a joint issue of stamps. Back in 1993 they issued a stamp to mark the 50th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, and in 2009 a stamp was produced to celebrate the life of Berek Joselewicz, a Jewish-Polish merchant who fought in the Kościuszko Uprising as colonel in the Polish army."

Source of above text and photo

Thank you Gene for informing us of this story. 

Communist Propaganda about Poland and Polish Catholicism Being Disseminated by "Catholics" on Facebook

So depressing. Mark Shea, a Catholic Facebook friend, a published author with thousands of followers, shared the below-linked Communist propaganda piece about Poland and Catholicism. His followers went on and shared the article again. 

Hating and defaming Polaks will never disappear, and the haters and the defamers are often Catholic or members of other Christian denominations themselves. 

Why do our fellow Christians resort to the Bieganski, Brute Polak stereotype

Here's why. Christians have done bad things to Jews. 

The Christians who indulge in the brute Polak stereotype say, "Look at these horrible Polaks! Primitive! Hateful! Unevolved! They are the ones who do bad things to Jews, not modern, evolved Christians like me!" When they say this, they get to earn points with their liberal, progressive audience. They cleanse themselves of any association with any anti-Semitism. 

We, the Polaks, are the *bad* Christians. They, those who repeat Communist propaganda about Polish primitives, are the *good* Christians. 

As I have said many times in the comments section of this blog, it is totally, factually wrong to blame the brute Polak stereotype on Jews. Mark Shea and his Catholic followers are not Jewish. And they are eagerly disseminating the brute Polak stereotype. 

The article in question is here I think you can see the article on Facebook here

The Best Years of Our Lives 1946 "And for what?"

The Best Years of Our Lives from 1946 is one of the best movies ever made. If you've never seen it, watch it. It's a great film to watch on Veterans Day. 

Hollywood was very careful about addressing anti-Semitism. Many Hollywood moguls were Polish Jews and they did not want to cause trouble. 

It wasn't until Gentleman's Agreement, in 1947, that America took on anti-Semitism directly, and prompted other films about prejudice. 

Strange that the Holocaust had just ended, and The Best Years of Our Lives had to tiptoe about one of the major issues of the war. In fact, America, for a long time, found it really hard to say, in so many words, that Nazis targeted Jews. One good source on this topic is Peter Novick's book, The Holocaust in American Life. 

Even after the war, those seeking help for war refugees asked public relations persons not to emphasize the Jewish identity of many refugees, fearing that Americans might not help if they knew that the recipients of their charity were Jews. 

Steven Spielberg's 1993 film Schindler's List was actually a groundbreaking film in being a big budget, mainstream audience film focused directly on the Holocaust. 

The Best Years of Our Lives features a short, unforgettable scene where an anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist alleges that Jews drew America into an unjust war against inoffensive Nazis and Japanese. 

The amazing thing about this scene is that the word "Jew" is never used. 

Nowadays, anti-Semitism is on the rise in this country. Anti-Semitic incidents are increasing. What has been called the worst attack on Jews in America, the Pittsburgh Tree of Life Synagogue shooting, just occurred. The shooter was operating on a conspiracy theory that has been promoted by Donald Trump.

Tel Aviv Municipal Building Lights Up to Celebrate Polish Independence

Tel Aviv Municipal building lights up to celebrate Polish Independence. Source

I don't know the original source for this image 

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Jan Peczkis on Polish TV

Jan Peczkis has written to inform me that he has made an appearance on Polish TV. You can view Jan's appearance at this link

Monday, November 5, 2018

Kler 2018. Filip Mazurczak's Review

Below is a guest blog post by Filip Mazurczak about the 2018 Polish film Kler (Clergy). 

Clergy: An Imperfect, but Needed Film

Wojciech Smarzowski’s film Kler (“Clergy”), which deals with scandal in the Catholic Church, has done remarkably well at the box office. It has been seen by 4.5 million Poles, making it the third film with the largest number of tickets sold in Poland after 1989, next to Jerzy Hoffman’s adaptation of Henryk Sienkiewicz’s With Fire and Sword and Andrzej Wajda’s take on Adam Mickiewicz’s Pan Tadeusz. Clergy, however, is nowhere near the success of Polish blockbusters from the communist era, such as Aleksander Ford’s adaptation of Sienkiewicz’s The Teutonic Knights, which sold 35 million tickets at a time when Poland’s population numbered a mere 32 million.

The opening scene of Clergy is one of the best crafted I have seen in recent Polish cinema. It shows three priests who have clearly been friends for a long time partying at a presbytery. They drink copious amounts of vodka, one shoots an apple of the other’s head with a slingshot (which, we learn later, he had borrowed from one of the students at the school where he teaches), gossip about Church affairs, and rock out to a song by the Polish rock band Kult, playing air guitar and air drums using wooden ladles, lamps, and other household objects.

To me, this scene brilliantly shows male friendship, something we in my opinion do not see enough on the silver screen, and when we do, it is in the form of mentor-like relationships, as in Good Will Hunting or Scent of a Woman.

There are other scenes, though, that are awkward, unoriginal, and poorly scripted. Thus at an artistic level, Clergy is a very uneven film. There are many things that work, and many that do not. For starters, the opening scene showing the priests acting in a way that is more profane than sacred and enjoying their camaraderie in a profession of which loneliness is a major part makes one think that their stories will intersect in the film. Clergy has many characters played by many of Poland’s finest actors and is an ensemble film, making one think of something by Robert Altman or Paul Thomas Anderson’s Boogie Nights. However, the three priests’ roads hardly intersect again (except towards the end of the film when the most positive of these three priests suspects that the most negative one may be a sex abuser). This makes the narrative feel disjointed; if their respective narratives met once more at the end, Clergy would be a much better film.

Many Polish critics have praised Janusz Gajos’ role as Archbishop Mordowicz (who is widely believed to be modeled on Archbishop Sławoj Leszek Głódź of Gdansk, known for his opulent lifestyle, love of drink, and close relationships with politicians, not only conservative, but also leftist post-communist ones). Although this will be lost on non-Polish language speakers, his name is in itself satirical: morda is Polish for an animal’s mouth, and it is slang for the face of an unpleasant person.

Archbishop Mordowicz is obsessed with building a sanctuary, and enters into shady deals with businessmen and the mob to illegally win real estate auctions (something that, sadly, is commonplace in Poland, not only in the building of places of worship). Meanwhile, an adult man who had been sexually abused by a priest as a child has an audience with Mordowicz and his aides. Mordowicz and his courtesans, though, are completely indifferent to this man’s pain, basically telling him to shut up, because if he talks about this he will do a lot of damage to the Church’s reputation.

I agree with Polish critics’ enthusiastic appraisal of Gajos (who, by the way, looks very good at seventy-nine). Gajos is perfect as a corrupt bureaucrat addicted to power. While undoubtedly there are prelates like Archbishop Mordowicz, he actually reminded me of several equally corrupt and repulsive Polish secular politicians. Gajos also gives some of the few moments of comic relief in this otherwise depressing film. If there were a Polish Best Supporting Actor Oscar, I would vote for Gajos without a second’s hesitation.

At the same time, he is so one-dimensional that he reminds me of villains in some of the cartoons I watched as a child in the early 1990s. Archbishop Mordowicz is kind of like Gargamel from The Smurfs… if every other word that came out of Gargamel’s mouth was obscene and if Gargamel (spoiler) had a penchant for Italian S&M clubs. He is the opposite of a complex villain like Hannibal Lecter.

Archbishop Mordowicz’s secretary is Father Lisowski, played by an average Jacek Braciak. Like Mordowicz, he is addicted to power and dreams of a career in the Vatican. His boss, though, blocks his aspirations and wants to keep him at his side. Angry, Lisowski bugs Mordowicz’s office to record material that could humiliate him and then blackmail the archbishop to let him go to Rome. Lisowski is slightly more complex than Mordowicz; in one scene, we see him crying upon reminiscing on his childhood spent in an orphanage run by a nun where minor offenses like wetting the bed were punished by brutal beatings (I was reminded of the infamous Magdalene laundries in Ireland) and rape (which, fortunately, occurs off-screen). However, he still is not a convincing character. Like Mordowicz, he has a pretty unoriginally symbolic name; lis is Polish for fox, an animal synonymous with cunning, and cunning Lisowski is.

Robert Więckiewicz plays the second priest-buddy, Father Trybus. Więckiewicz is widely believed to be one of Poland’s finest actors today, and I share this assessment. He was great as a petty criminal who first saves Jews in Lwów's (now Lviv's) sewers initially for financial gain yet has a change of heart and becomes a Holocaust hero in Agnieszka Holland’s In Darkness; he was also spot-on as Solidarity leader Lech Wałęsa in Andrzej Wajda’s Wałęsa: Man of Hope (a film that, unfortunately, did not have a North American release, although it was shown to members of the US Congress, where Wałęsa himself once gave an address). Robert Więckiewicz also played in my favorite Polish movie, 2007’s Wszystko będzie dobrze (“All Will Be Well”) a heart-breaking, beautiful, and brilliant movie that nearly brings me to tears about how to keep one’s faith when we suffer and it seems that God is not listening to our prayers; it is like the Book of Job set in present-day Poland.

In Clergy, however, Więckiewicz is disappointing. His character clearly has a drinking problem; for the first half of the film, he is shown constantly drink shot glass after shot glass after shot glass. This feels as if the director is insulting his audience’s intelligence; yes, Mr. Smarzowski, we understand that Trybus is an alcoholic. He does in fact seem completely wasted in every scene, but is this really that great acting? He knows how to play a drunk, as Więckiewicz has already done so in at least two other films.

Furthermore, Trybus is in love with his gosposia Hanka, an element of Polish Catholic culture that I have not seen in the United States. A gosposia is a woman who runs the presbytery, cleaning and cooking for the priests who live there.

Whereas Trybus is a weak character, Hanka – played very well by Joanna Kulig, who has been recently enjoying good coverage in the international press as a result of her strong role in Paweł Pawlikowski’s Cold War – is great. She plays what I would call a feminist Catholic and strong woman, yet one who is still enslaved by her infatuation for Trybus. When she tells him that she is pregnant, he gives her money and tells her to go to the Czech Republic and have an abortion. Chamie! Hanka shouts. “You bastard!”

This is another one of the parts of the film that works well. It would be an exaggeration to call Clergy a pro-life film. However, it shows one important aspect of the abortion debate that is missing, and one that the pro-abortion feminists oddly seem to ignore: that often times abortion results from the fact that men are too selfish to take care of the human life they have created, and treat abortion as a get out of jail card.

Ultimately, though, Trybus has pangs of guilt and travels to the gynecology clinic in the Czech Republic where Hanka is and convinces her to not kill her unborn child. He ultimately has a change of heart and in addition to deciding to accompany Hanka and their child, in literally the next scene he is shown pouring bottles of vodka into the kitchen sink.

Naturally, Trybus did the morally responsible thing. However, when did this road to Damascus occur? Nowhere in the film are we given a clue. This plot hole is probably the result of weak writing; after all, this was the screenwriter’s first film.

The final priest of the three is the most unambiguously positive and most charismatic. Father Kukuła is brilliantly played by Arkadiusz Jakubik. At the film’s beginning, he is show driving a car right after his drunken party with his chums, going through the motions while giving a dying woman the sacrament of the anointing of the sick (her family gives him money; however, Catholic priests do not receive a payment for the last rites), and hung-over in the confessional, completely blowing his penitent off. “Bless me father, for I have sinned. I have killed my unborn child,” she says. “What was your child’s name?”

These first couple scenes seem out of place, as Kukuła is a committed, charismatic, and even heroic priest. A newly ordained young priest comes to his parish, and Kukuła gives him advice deep from his heart when he deals with loneliness and doubt. “Be a good person, and you will be a good priest,” he tells him tenderly.

When one of Father Kukuła’s altar boys is raped, Kukuła makes an ambitious attempt to find the perpetrator and seek justice for the boy. He truly gives Christian witness and is a holy model priest. Eventually, though, his parishioners start to suspect that he was the rapist, and a lynching scene reminiscent of that in Spike Lee’s Summer of Sam breaks out at a funeral when his flock literally attacks him.

We learn that Kukuła himself had been raped by a priest as a young altar boy in the 1980s over the course of two years, which makes him even more determined and passionate in seeking justice for this poor boy. Here, however, we have another plot hole. One would think that someone who had such traumatic experiences with the clergy would never want to come near a church again. Why did Kukuła enter seminary? This is all the more puzzling, since of the four main characters, he is the one most deeply committed to his vocation. Was this Stockholm syndrome? Did Kukuła want to reform the Church after having seen sin within its structures? There is not even a hint at an answer.

When Kukuła learns that he cannot count on Mordowicz to pursue justice for the boy, he falls into despair and (major spoiler), as a sign of protest, decides to set himself on fire during the ceremony when the archbishop blesses the construction of his beloved shrine. When Kukuła is aflame, the crowds run from him, forming a triangle that unambiguously resembles the symbol of Divine Providence.

This final scene of Clergy is clumsy, even kitsch, and above all unoriginal. Apart from the very banal symbolism, self-immolation as protest is a very well-known motif in the part of the world where the film is set. After the Warsaw Pact armies invaded Czechoslovakia in 1968, Jan Palach set himself on fire in Prague in protest, as did Ryszard Siewiec in Warsaw. Furthermore, Tadeusz Konwicki wrote an excellent satirical novel A Minor Apocalypse, published in 1979, that follows a Polish dissident writer whose friends ask him to set himself aflame in front of Warsaw’s Palace of Culture and Science to protest against the Communist Party.

In sum, Clergy does have some excellent motifs, brilliant performances, and characters that are convincingly endearing or repulsive. At the same time, it suffers from several disappointing performances, unoriginal plot elements, and plot holes. Thus my rating is: 2.5/4.

With regards to the alleged anti-Catholicism of the film, it must be said that the hysterical controversy surrounding the film occurred for the most part before its release, when only a handful of people had seen Clergy. For someone who had not yet seen the film, it seemed much more provocative than it is, for several reasons. First, the trailer, which is very misleading, presents the film as an anti-clerical satire that builds on stereotypes. Also, one of the posters, which arguably is offensive, presents a piggy bank with a cross as the slot. These promotional materials made the film ripe for controversy (and were a brilliant marketing strategy, because everything that is controversial sells). In a couple Polish cities, city councilors banned the film from being shown.

In reality, Clergy is at best mildly anti-clerical. As a practicing Catholic who loves his Church and is convinced that there are many more saintly priests than wicked ones, I found absolutely nothing in the film that would offend me. There were no sacrilegious scenes or those that mock any aspect of the Christian faith.

The film does critically present certain behaviors in the Church, such as Church officials who are more convinced about the Church’s reputation than the well being of those who have been greatly hurt by priests. However, it would be strange if a Catholic were not critical of such behaviors, which sadly have taken place (although, I would argue, they happened much more in, say, Ireland than in Poland). In fact, Clergy’s message is not at all different from things the two most recent popes have said. Shortly before his election, Benedict XVI deplored the “filth” of sexual abuse in the Church. Francis called such behaviors caca (literally, “crap”) and has condemned “careerism” in the Church, which is symbolized by Father Lisowski.

Critics of Clergy have accused the film of painting a distorted image of the Church, focusing more on the negative than on the positive. My response is that this is not a film about the Church as a whole, but about three priests (one of whom, I would argue, is saintly) and one bishop. Father Kukuła disproves the accusation that the film only paints priests as perverts, careerists, or drunks who do not take their vows of chastity seriously. Kukuła is truly a martyr, even if, of course, his martyrdom was suicide, which is inconsistent with Christian ethics. Yes, Kukuła was in conflict with Church authorities, but so were many saints: Padre Pio, Faustina Kowalska, and Joan of Arc, who, lest we forget, was sentenced to burning at the stake by a bishop.

Before his self-immolation, Kukuła is seen praying, which strongly suggests that he is not protesting against Christianity or even the Church, but against his sleazy bishop.

On the whole, it is a very good thing that Clergy was released in Poland. I am convinced that most priests are wonderful people, but even if there is one priest in the entire Church who causes harm to a child, that is one too many.

Many had expected that pious Catholics would hold mass rosary rallies in front of cinemas playing Clergy. However, most Polish priests’ reaction to the film have been much more circumspect. On Monika Olejnik’s popular television program, Father Józef Kloch, said that the film can bring catharsis to the Church, and if one priest sees himself on screen, maybe this will cause him to think about his life and convert. Father Adam Szustak, OP, Poland’s most popular preacher whose internet talks about the faith have hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube and who regularly fills up soccer stadiums to give retreats, has said that the film has led him to go walk from Lodz to Jerusalem as a penitential pilgrimage for his sins and those of other priests.

The biggest positive fruit of Clergy, however, has happened when at a press conference during the film’s premiere Arkadiusz Jakubik said that his childhood friend was molested by a priest in Opole. Immediately, Bishop Andrzej Czaja of Opole contacted the actor, who then put him in touch with his friend. Bishop Czaja informed the prosecutor’s office and the Vatican of this case of abuse. Shortly afterwards, Bishop Czaja issued a letter to all the faithful in his diocese read in every parish on Sunday in which he apologized for the sins of the clergy in Opole and gave statistics on the number of priests in the diocese who had been accused of abusing minors (by the way, this was a tiny proportion of the Opole clergy).

So even if Clergy has some artistic shortcomings, the film is a blessing because it has led to some purification of the Church and some Churchmen to think more critically and be more aware of the Judases who wear Roman collars.