April 12, 2010
The Religious Leaders Who Died in Poland's Airplane Crash
Prominent Lutheran bishop was on his last trip as head of chaplaincy.
The death of Polish President Lech Kaczynski, his wife, Poland’s senior military officers, the head of the country’s central bank, and other top government officials has dominated coverage of Saturday’s plane crash. But several prominent religious figures were among the 95 killed in the crash as well.
Among them: Lutheran bishop Adam Pilch, who was on the plane as head of head of Poland’s Protestant military chaplaincy. Poland’s Gazeta Bielsko-Biata newspaper notes that the Saturday remembrance ceremony the many political and military figures were flying to was to be Pilch’s last official act in his chaplaincy role. The pastor was well known in Warsaw as pastor of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church (which Pope Benedict XVI visited in 2006) and later Church of the Assumption.
Orthodox archbishop Miron Chodakowski and Roman Catholic bishop Tadeusz Ploski, two other senior military chaplaincy leaders, also died in the crash.
Bronislaw Gostomski is one of the few religious figures to die in the crash and get significant attention in the Western press. That’s because he was a priest in Shepherds Bush, London (he had been the personal chaplain of Ryszard Kaczorowski, Poland’s last president-in-exile, who also died in the crash).
Other religious figures in the crash were Ryszard Rumianek (the Roman Catholic rector of Warsaw's Cardinal Wyszynski University), Zdzislaw Krol (chaplain of Poland's Katyn Families Association), and Józef Joniec, the priest who headed Poland’s Parafiada organization (a Catholic youth ministry).
(Creative Commons image from Patryk Korzeniecki)