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The Warsaw Voice » Society » August 2, 2010
Politics & Society
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In brief
August 2, 2010   
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Ambassador honored
Before leaving Poland to take up a new post in Sri Lanka, Pakistan’s ambassador to Warsaw, Seema Ilahi Baloch (pictured, left), was awarded the prestigious Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland. Picture: Polish Foreign Minister Radosław Sikorski (right) handed over the award at a ceremony held at the Foreign Ministry in Warsaw June 28.

New civil rights commissioner
After taking an oath before the parliament, Irena Lipowicz July 20 became Poland’s new commissioner for civil rights. Her predecessor Janusz Kochanowski was killed in the plane crash near Smolensk April 10.

Lipowicz was born in 1953 in the southern city of Gliwice, graduated form the University of Silesia’s Law and Administration Department in 1976 and has been a professor at the Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University in Warsaw since 1998. She currently heads the administrative law faculty there.

She was a parliamentary deputy for many years, first representing the Democratic Union (UD), then the Freedom Union (UW). She chaired the Polish-Austrian Parliamentary Group and was deputy chair of the Polish-German Parliamentary Group. She was the Polish ambassador to Austria in 2000-2004 and the foreign minister’s representative for Polish-German relations in 2004-2006. She was recommended for civil rights commissioner by the governing Civic Platform (PO) and—in the parliamentary vote—was also supported by the other coalition member, the Polish People’s Party (PSL), as well as the opposition Democratic Left Alliance (SLD).

Solidarity chaplain dies
Henryk Jankowski, a Gdańsk priest who was a Solidarity trade union chaplain in the 1980s, died July 12 at the age of 74. He was the parish priest of St. Bridget’s Church in Gdańsk for many years. In August 1980, Jankowski celebrated a historic Mass for workers on strike at the Gdańsk Shipyard. Among other positions, he was the long-time personal confessor of Lech Wałęsa, the leader and founder of Solidarity. Throughout the 1980s, and especially during martial law, Jankowski’s Gdańsk parish was one of the main centers of the democratic opposition in the coastal region.

After 1989 Father Jankowski started being seen as a controversial figure. His sermons were criticized as anti-Semitic. In 1997 Gdańsk Archbishop Tadeusz Gocłowski forbade Jankowski from delivering sermons for a year, after, in one of his homilies, Jankowski stated, “We mustn’t tolerate the Jewish minority in the Polish government.”

In 2004 Gocłowski again banned Jankowski from giving sermons and dismissed him as parish priest. From then on, Jankowski seldom spoke out in public.
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