A dream of building a national monument in the United States to 1,000 years of Polish Catholicism deteriorated into a nightmare of financial and religious scandal. Its specter entangled even Pope John Paul II himself—or so claims a copyrighted series by Gannett News Service of Rochester, New York. The series ran in Gannett’s 78 American newspapers and was summarized in wire service accounts in hundreds of others last month.
The Gannett series, titled “The Vatican Coverup,” came at the same time as protest against use of public moneys or property for the papal tour, and clouded preparations for John Paul’s first papal trip to the United States earlier this month.
The Gannett series resulted from a year-long investigation by a three-man team (including a former Rome correspondent and a winner of national Catholic press awards), and cited confidential Vatican documents.
Object of the investigation was the 21-member American chapter of the Order of St. Paul the Hermit (better known as the Pauline Fathers) and its Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa (CHEST-a-HO-va), which is located near Doylestown, Pennsylvania.
The American Paulines are part of the worldwide order, which has 226 members in eight countries. The Pauline order has headquarters in Jasna Gora (south central) Poland, where the revered Czestochowa shrine (which the American shrine was patterned after) is located. The shrine houses the ancient “black Madonna” icon of Mary, and is the nation’s spiritual capital. The American Czestochowa was founded in 1955 by Michael M. Zembrzuski, 70, the American branch’s first vicar-general. He planned the shrine as a religious and cultural rallying point for the 12 million Polish-Americans.
The Gannett reports alleged that:
• Vatican-appointed ...1
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