A Study in Contrasts

Two Polish men.

Both artists.

Both “brilliant.”

Both persecuted by Nazis, in their native land. One was a prisoner, one was a slave. When the Nazis left, the Communists came.

One, Roman Polanski, becomes a filmmaker. He encounters a 13 year old girl.

One, Karol Wojtyla, becomes a priest. He too, encounters a 13 year old girl.

After his encounter, the filmmaker -still a youngish man- runs away, out into the world, saying “everyone wants to do what I did.” He lives what is for the most part a rather good life, with privileges and honors and worldly accolades. He travels to many places, attracting admirers. At age 76, in the course of accepting yet another award, he becomes a martyr to some, for the crime of forcing himself on the 13 year old.

After his encounter, the priest
-still a youngish man- opens his arms and runs out into the world, saying “Do not be afraid; open wide the doors to Christ”. He lives what is for the most part, a rather good life, despite multiple assassination attempts and a cruel debilitating illness. He travels the world, attracting huge crowds for the worship of Christ. At over 80 years of age, he is still traveling and reaching out to young people, still carrying them on his hunched back and kindling warmth for them. He dies at age 83, and the whole world stops, and marks his death, and mourns. By the millions, the young travel to Rome from every continent, to mark his passing and to shout “Sancto subito!”

Two men who suffered under the jackboot of totalitarianism and the disregard for human life and human dignity.

Both media geniuses.

One taught only what he had learned.

The other taught how to transcend it.

“Do not be afraid…open wide the doors to Christ.”

In this “Year of the Priest,” let us ask Karol Wojtyla to pray for the soul of his countryman, who is perhaps, now feeling very, very afraid. And for the very confused people who seem not to understand why that might be.

Related:
Althouse dares to ask
Musing Minds wonders about our disconnect on rape

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Gerry

    The links in “The Polish Seminarian and the Jewish Girl he Saved” have gone bad.

    [Thanks for the heads up - fixed it; if it blows again, the story is here -admin]

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  • MarkF

    The reason why the left is backing up Polanski is that he’s one of their own. If this had been a Catholic priest, they’d be in the lynching party.

  • A None-E-Moose

    There’s another Pole to contrast against Polanski…Fr. Kolbe, who encountered the Immaculate Heart of Mary (did she appear to him as a 13 year old mother when she held out to him the two crowns?), and who ran to another man’s punishment, as contrast to another Pole’s running away from his own punishment?

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  • http://picture-a-day.typepad.com Ag Sag

    Such a simple comparison, such a dramatic difference.

    Using the life of Pope John Paul II as a yardstick for the rest of us isn’t a bad idea either.

    Thanks always for your posts.

  • http://diddly.wordpress.com W Chase

    The appropriate thing to to when you do something wrong is to want to make it right including paying the price for it. It is human to want to be granted some mercy, but wanting a total free pass is below human. It makes him more like a hyena or a cow bird. The very fact that Polanski never wanted to face up to what the did shows me that the pathology that led him to rape in the first place is very much part of who he is. If you are ever in a position to talk to offenders, you’d know what I mean. As far as his defenders, I think Althouse is on to something. Hollywood exploits the young, no doubt there. Chews them up and spits them out. Call it Stockholm Syndrome if you are feeling generous, but many of them are straight up perps from the get go.

  • crazylikeknoxes

    “… a rather good life,” despite having his wife and unborn child murdered.

    That excuses nothing, but seems to me a relevant qualification to “good life” and a parallel of sorts to “assissination attempts.”

    [That's a fair point; I'd forgotten about the Tate murder. But I was also thinking more, at that point, about their lives after they'd "run out into the world," at which point both lives became "rather good" in the material and worldly sense. -admin]

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  • Miriam

    Here is the link to the full story of Karol Wojtyla’s encounter with the 13 year old girl.

    [Thank you; I could not seem to turn that up last night! -admin]

  • http://www.wingnutsandmoonbats.com Peter

    It is incomprehensible to me how anyone can defend Polanski. All I can do is shake my head.

  • dymphna

    Roman Polanski was already cheating on his wife and wasn’t all that enthusiastic about the pending birth of his child. He used the deaths of his wife and child as an excuse for his behavior but that doesn’t cut it. If he’d done his time it would be a distant memory by now.

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  • dry valleys

    Will Sarah Palin be referring to this in her forthcoming book? I think we should be told!

  • http://minoroutside.blogspot.com cminor

    Assuming that Polanski was devastated by the losses of his wife, and unborn child (as would be almost any man,) his tragic past still did not excuse drugging a girl with a concoction that could have harmed or killed her and then sexually brutalizing her. At best, the combination of the personal tragedy with the demonstrated lack of empathy for another human being marked him out as someone so damaged by life as to be a potential danger to others. The justice system generally recognizes that such people are not in control of their actions and deals with them accordingly, but it does not (if it is wise) simply turn them loose on the world to continue preying on others.

    The Anchoress’s statement that “One taught only what he had learned.” is even more to the point when one takes into account the Sharon Tate murder. Life handed Polanski brutality, and he in turn passed brutality on.

    This was a stirring post. Very, very good. It should be read by anyone considering the issues in this case.

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  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Valleys, what’s Sarah Palin, or her book, got to do with anything?

    If you that curious about whether or not she’s going to reference this, why not ask her yourself?

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  • Cromagnum

    Wouldn’t Carol be considered a ‘director in search of immortal souls’ (a priest) who worked in the divine theatre?

    And Roman might be a director still in search of his soul who worked in the earthy ampitheater ?

  • Stephanie

    Polanski got what he deserved when he was arrested. Period. It does no one any credit to defend him.
    I’d defend the man myself if he’d served his time for the crime he committed- but not for running from it. I’d have thought the statute of limitations would have run out- isn’t there a time limit on most prosecutions? But if it hasn’t- bully for us to have him arrested!

  • tehag

    That news story about Karol Wojtyla ends on a painful moment, when Edith flees the young man on the advice of others that, since she was Jewish, Wojtyla might be taking her off to the “cloisters.” (Wow, talk about delusional and completely out of touch. Worrying about the “cloisters” when Auschwitz was up the road.)

  • cathyf

    There is a statute of limitations on bringing prosecution for most crimes. However, in this case, the prosecution has already been brought, and it’s just the sentence that Polanski has escaped serving. So far.

  • http://minoroutside.blogspot.com cminor

    FWIW, Wikipedia states that,
    “By way of custom of international law, crimes against humanity are usually not subject to statute of limitations, nor to prescription.”
    Rape is considered a “crime against humanity.”

    So, even if Polanski had not already been charged and pled guilty, the crime he committed is serious enough that statutes of limitations wouldn’t apply. (Subject to the assumption that Wikipedia got it right!)

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