The cross that has caused so much controversy in Poland was moved to the chapel inside of the Presidential Palace at 8:00 this morning, where it was blessed and set next to a plaque commemorating the fallen victims who worked in the Office of the President.
As reported previously in the Krakow Post, an attempt was made to move the cross on 3 August. But supporters of the opposition party Law and Justice, led by the late President’s twin brother Jarosław Kaczyński, mounted a guard to prevent its removal. Since then, the self-styled “Defenders of the Cross” – including people from across Poland – have kept vigil at the site.
That was until today (16 September), when Jacek Michalowski, chief of staff at the Presidential Palace, decided enough was enough. With four colleagues, he took the cross to the chapel. Mr. Michalowski confirmed that church representatives did not assist in the removal.
Mr. Michalowski later told a press conference that the dispute had begun to harm “the authority of the state and church”. He added that many Poles were offended that the cross was being used as a “hostage to a political game”. His words reflected those of Kazimierz Nycz, Archbishop of Warsaw, who earlier urged the Defenders of the Cross to stand down their guard. The Archbishop said: “One cannot push toward a political goal using the cross”.
Protestors complained that the removal took place after Warsaw’s city police intervened to move them from a campsite outside the Ministry of Culture. They have vowed to stay on outside the Presidential Palace until a new memorial is erected.
The fate of the cross is still far from certain, however. Twenty-eight families of crash victims have sent a letter to First Lady Anna Komorowska to ask for help in organizing a pilgrimage to the site of the tragedy in October and have offered to take the cross with them.