22nd Oct 2016

EU frowns on Polish priest's school

The European Commission is trying to block the possibility that EU money could fund a media academy in Poland, which is run by controversial Roman Catholic priest Tadeusz Rydzyk.

An anonymous EU official on Thursday (20 September) told Polish national press agency PAP that Brussels wants to add a new clause to an EU development scheme in order to decline a €15 million grant for the school.

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The new clause states that beneficiaries must offer "masters or PhD-level qualifications" and have "international educational standards" verified by "objective rankings."

Father Rydzyk's private "WSKSiM" academy in the town of Torun has scored low in past listings, the anonymous commission source pointed out.

Poland put WSKSiM on its wishlist for the EU's 2007 to 2013 "Infrastructure and Environment" programme earlier this year. But Warsaw and Brussels must now negotiate the broad criteria for funding, which the commission will later use to decide on individual projects.

Father Rydzyk, who set up the school in 2001, also operates the Radio Maryja radio station, which broadcasts a mix of nationalist, Roman Catholic and rightist views.

Last year, the Vatican complained to Radio Maryja after it gave a strong platform to anti-Semitic commentators, who accused Jews of profiteering from Holocaust reparations.

European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso visiting Warsaw on Thursday declined to answer WSKSiM questions directly, but said the EU "rigorously approaches basic issues...[such as] human rights, freedom, the right to non-discrimination on grounds of gender, sexual orientation, ethnic origin or beliefs."

"Europe is stronger now than before enlargement. Europe is stronger with Poland than without Poland," he also said.

His wider remarks come after the rightist Polish government - which was backed by Radio Maryja in its 2005 election campaign - recently caused a fuss in Brussels by threatening to veto a new EU treaty and blocking an EU anti-death penalty day.

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