Conference “Memory – Dialogue – Reconciliation. Spiritual dimensions of forgiveness

The second part of the conference “Memory – Dialogue – Reconciliation” entitled “The spiritual dimension of forgiveness”, organized by the Jan Karski Society, took place in Kielce. It was an introduction to the July celebrations of the 70th anniversary of the Kielce pogrom. The presentations of Kielce Bishop, Jan Piotrowski, Polish Chief Rabbi Michael Schudrich, chairman of the Committee for the Dialogue with Judaism, bishop Mieczyslaw Cisło, and a letter of archbishop Stanisław Gądecki opened the conference, which was held in the Stefan Żeromski Theater.

There were four discussion panels. Senior Primate Archbishop Henryk Muszyński, Fr. prof. Wacław Hryniewicz and a special guest from Argentina – Rabbi prof. Abraham Skórka, friend of Pope Francis spoke about the spiritual dimension of forgiveness and mercy said The panel was chaired by Professor. Bożena Szaynok.

The next panel referred to politics and repentance and was chaired by Tomasz Dostatni OP. The panelists included former Prime Minister Włodzimierz Cimoszewicz, Ewa Juńczyk-Ziomecka – former Minister in the Chancellery of the Polish President Lech Kaczynski and mayor of Kielce Wojciech Lubawski. During the panel entitled “The road to reconciliation” the testimonies were given by Buddhist Wojciech Eichelberger, rabbi Joel Chaim Nowicki. And Fr. Manfred Deselaers – a German Catholic working in the Center for Dialogue and Prayer in Auschwitz. The panel was chaired by Dominika Kozłowska, editor-in-chief of the monthly magazine “Znak”.

At the end of the debates in the Stefan Żeromski Theater. the prize of the Polish Council of Christians and Jews “Man of Reconciliation” as awarded to Rabbi Abraham Skórka. This title has been awarded annually since 1992 for special achievements in the field of reconciliation and Christian-Jewish dialogue. The laudatory speech was delivered by Bogdan Białek, co-president of the Polish Council of Christians and Jews and president of the Jan Karski Society.

The second part of the conference, which was held in the ‘Moskwa’ cinema (Staszica Street) was opened with the screening of a feature-length documentary about the Kielce pogrom and the road to reconciliation entitled “Bogdan’s Journey”, directed by Michał Jaskulski and Larry Loewinger. After the screening people from Kielce including Maja Wolny – writer and journalist living in Belgium, Andrzej Saramowicz – the director of the Muslim School of Sufi and Marek Cecuła – outstanding ceramics artist living in Kielce, the son of a survivor of the pogrom spoke about the paths to reconciliation and truth.