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Friday, April 06, 2007                                                                                       View Comments

Polish leaders slam satire on papal miracles

Warsaw, Poland - Polish politicians reacted angrily on Thursday to a series of photos of the late pope John Paul II published with satirical captions by German newspaper Die Welt.

Foreign Minister Anna Fotyga said she was 'very upset' by the pictures, which are accompanied by texts claiming that they represent a series of miracles performed by the late pontiff.

'This does not demand a pronouncement from the Foreign Minister, but as a private person, especially at Easter, I must say I'm shocked,' Fotyga said according to the PAP news agency.

President Lech Kaczynski called the satire disturbing, while the Catholic-conservative League of Polish Families called it scandalous and called for a boycott of the newspaper, the wire added.

The series of pictures, posted on the website Welt Online on Tuesday, presents genuine photographic images of John Paul II taken at various stages of his pontificate.

One picture shows an aged Pope holding up a communion wafer the size of a vinyl LP disc while celebrating Mass.

The caption runs, 'When 'DJ Johnpaulgeorgeandringo' put on (soul musician) Marvin Gaye's 'Sexual Healing' at a mass rave in Ibiza in 1998, several handicapped people jumped up spontaneously from their wheelchairs.'

Another shows the Pope meeting Cuban president Fidel Castro.

'Cuba and its 'Maximo Leader' have defied the US embargo and all the CIA's assassination attempts for almost 50 years. Pater Balsamico says, 'It's already pretty close to a miracle,'' the caption says.

The satirical photos were published a day after the Vatican announced that it was sifting evidence that a French nun, Sister Marie Simon-Pierre, was miraculously cured of Parkinson's disease after praying to the late pope.

But the photos have not been well received by Poland's right-wing government. Poland is a fiercely Catholic country, and the late pontiff - formerly archbishop of Krakow - is widely regarded in the country as having been the greatest Pole of all time.

It is not the first time that Poland's current government has clashed with the German press. Last July German magazine Die Tageszeitung ran a story describing the round-faced President Kaczynski as 'Poland's new potato.'

Kaczynski demanded that the German government take action over the insult, and pulled out of a planned summit with the French and German presidents, claiming stomach problems.