More than 25,000 zloty collected at the masses in honour Gdańsk’s murdered mayor Paweł Adamowicz is being used to help families in the war-torn Syrian city of Aleppo, reports the website.

The collection of alms at Wednesday’s service in St Mary’s Basilica in Gdańsk marking the anniversary of Adamowicz’s death raised in excess of 10,000 zloty. At the mayor’s funeral mass on 19 January last year, over 15,000 zloty was raised.

In both cases, Prelate Ireneusz Bradtke, the parish priest, decided to donate the collection to the Family to Family programme run by the Catholic church’s charity Caritas, which is devoted to helping families affected by armed conflicts. Speaking after last year’s collection, Bradtke explained that Adamowicz had told him that this cause was particularly close to his heart.

“I remember a moment when he called me and said, ‘You know what, I don’t want to boast, but we’ve taken a family from Aleppo into a so-called adoption,” said Bradtke, quoted by Onet. “I’d like you to encourage the worshippers at the basilica to extend special care to these families from Aleppo. It’s worth continuing Caritas’s adoption now. Thank you for that, Paweł.”

The prelate noted that the money collected last year was used by Caritas Polska to support four Syrian families for six months.

According to the Caritas website, in three years the Family to Family programme has helped 9,000 families in Syria and the Gaza Strip with donations of 52 million zloty. Its work involves “direct aid to families from countries consumed by war or conflict through one-off or monthly financial support”, with varying amounts of money given to families depending on their location and needs.

As Father Bradtke explained to, “The principle is not to give fish, but fishing rods, and not to make people dependent on aid. The campaign requires cooperation from the beneficiaries.”

Paweł Adamowicz was stabbed on stage at a concert for the Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity fundraising event in Gdańsk on 13 January 2019, and died from his injuries the next day. An official period of national mourning was held after his murder, and shocked Poles held vigils up and down the country.

The Great Orchestra is not popular among many Polish conservatives, including members of the ruling Law and Justice party (PiS), whose efforts to undermine the event’s success have included heavy promotion of Caritas on the public broadcaster TVP and an insistence that it is a more deserving recipient of the charity of “good Catholics”.

But the Great Orchestra’s founder and frontman Jerzy Owsiak has denied suggestions of any rivalry, saying in an interview with Gazeta Wyborcza: “When my father-in-law was dying, it was people from the nearby Caritas who helped him. A good few years ago I said to the head of [Caritas], ‘Our greatest pain is the fact that people compare us.’ That’s not what we’re striving for.”

Main image credit: Jakub Porzycki/Agencja Gazeta


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