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Phenomenon of Radio Virgin Mary
Page 1
Olga Blaszczyk
Student number:61668
Phenomenon of Radio Virgin Mary
After the collapse of the communist regime in Poland in 1989, Polish society has
changed dramatically. The new constitution introduced rights that, among others, gave people
the right to freely propagate their own ideas and opinions, practise their own religion, actively
participate in public life. Moreover, it enabled people to form companies and associations
independent of any state or governmental organ. One of the people who managed to benefit
from these democratic changes was father Tadeusz Rydzyk, a priest, member of a religious
community of fathers redemptorists, who in 1991 founded a Polish Catholic radio station –
Radio Virgin Mary. Since its foundation, Radio Virgin Mary has transformed from a marginal
Catholic station eagerly supported by the Polish clergy into a self-governed empire totally out
of anyone’s control, including the Polish Episcopate, Polish government or even Vatican.
Empire currently consisting of a radio station, daily newspaper, television station, several
private universities and foundations collecting money for the sake of the Radio. The station
has become an organization resembling a political party or a religious sect, uniting its listeners
around its director father Rydzyk. Rydzyk himself has become an unquestionable charismatic
authority for the Family of Radio Virgin Mary (the name for all the Radio listeners). The
activity of the Radio is based on rules that are characteristic for a religious sect. It is a medium
that uses propaganda and manipulation to spread nationalistic, homophobic, anti-European
and anti-Semitic ideas. Having a strong support of his followers, father Rydzyk is becoming
more and more powerful and, in connection with this, more and more dangerous to the Polish
democracy and society in general.
The aim of this work is to present the phenomenon of Radio Virgin Mary. I will try to
explain how it is possible that for so many years father Rydzyk, subject to constant criticism
of both clergy and politicians in Poland, has managed to gradually improve his position as a
leader of a socio-religious group such as the Family of Radio Virgin Mary. And how has he
managed to create this pseudocatholic movement in the first place. I will do that by
introducing the history of the Radio and Tadeusz Rydzyk himself, the development of his
“empire” and it’s present enormity and power. All the information mentioned underneath

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comes from internet resources and articles from Polish press, as well as fragments of the
Radio broadcasts collected by myself during hours of listening to it.
Since his early childhood, Tadeusz Rydzyk, born in 1945 in a small and rather poor
Polish family (mother, two brothers and a sister), has been a very ambitious but rather shy
child. At school an average student, not having many friends, concentrated on himself. After
having graduated from a Higher Seminary of Fathers Redemptorists in Tuchow and Catholic
Theology Academy in Warsaw, since 1971 Rydzyk has been working as a priest in Torun and
Szczecinek. In the 1970s. and 80. he was an activist of the underground anti-communist
movement. He was also the first one to organize so called “big beat masses” aimed at bringing
the youth back to the church. In 1986 Rydzyk left to Germany, where he stayed against the
will of the Polish Episcopate until 1991. During that time he was working in a parish in
Oberstaufen, but his main interest was a Catholic station Radio Maria International from
Augsburg where he used to spend a lot of time studying the mechanisms of managing the
radio. He also attended a course in the Schiller’s Institute, propagating the political and
economic “third way”, nationalism and belief in the global government of speculators.
Rydzyk came back to Poland in 1991, when he founded Radio Virgin Mary (Radio
Maria International served as a role model). He appeared to be both a skillful businessman
and a charismatic leader. Using popular American preachers such as Michael Manning,
Kennet Copeland and William Branham having their own television programmes as role
models, he has been collecting money for the sake of the Radio from both individual donors
and organizations of the Poles abroad (mainly in Argentina, Brazil, Canada and the US).
Recently, he has limited the time spent in the Radio and takes care mostly for the finances,
propaganda and generally managing the Radio.
"This is Radio Virgin Mary – a Catholic voice in our homes. Praise Jesus Christ and
Mary the Virgin” – the Radio welcomes its listeners every day since December 7
1991 with
exactly the same words.
The whole history started in February 1990, when father Rydzyk came to Poland with
an Italian diplomat Ivano Petrobelli (who financially contributed to the Radio) and during the

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meeting in Cracow decided about the creation on Radio Virgin Mary. Since the primary aim
of the Radio was evangelisation, the idea got the support of the Polish Episcopate and in June
1991 Rydzyk was granted the first broadcasting stations in Torun and Bydgoszcz. Until 1994
the Radio broadcast on the basis of 117 local radio stations that were given to father Rydzyk
by the Episcopate. In 1994 Radio Virgin Mary was granted a permission to work as a national
social broadcaster.
Currently, Radio Virgin Mary is a national Catholic social radio station, broadcasting
also through internet and satellite. As a social broadcaster, it is obliged to have a wide social,
cultural and educational programme, but can not gain any profit from advertisements – it
exists only thanks to private donations. Since the very beginning, the Radio staff has consisted
of several priests (Tadeusz Rydzyk, father Jacek Cydzik, father Jan Krol, father Dariusz
Pabis, father Jan Mikrut and others), sisters from the Community of St. Vincent Paulo Sisters
and the Community of Sisters from Nazareth. Much of the work is done by volunteers (there
are about 200 of them in the Radio). None of the people involved in work in the Radio takes
any money from their activity (maybe except for Tadeusz Rydzyk, himself...).
The main aim of the station is evangelisation. It is based on three elements that
constitute the Radio programme. The first and the most important one is prayer and
retransmission of mass. The central part of each day is the Eucharist. All the prayers are led
by the listeners contacting the Radio on the phone. The second element of the programme is
catechism. Thanks to everyday reading of the pope’s letters and other church documents an
open discussion takes place. Discussions concern not only religious and moral matters, but
also many social and political problems. The third element is direct contact with the listeners,
who may actively take part in discussions by calling the Radio, present their opinions on
current situation of the church and the society, and also share their personal problems with
other listeners. According to the Radio, prayers take 5,5 hours per day, catechism 2,5 hours,
and contact 12 hours. Apart from that, the Radio broadcasts information programmes,
auditions aimed at children, parents, and families, musical programmes, meditations. The Top
Ten Chart features songs like “You found me” by H.I.S. Band, “God full of mercy”
(Skaldowie), “Trust” (Magda Angel), “Cross” (Vox Eremi), “Sunday Flight”, “Our days”
(Amen Band), “Redeemed guilt” (New Day), “I believe” (Deus Meus). Needless to say that
none of these bands are popular and widely known in Poland. Among the most surprising
names of the programmes we can find: “The news weird and interesting”, “Cooking advises
of sister Leonia”, “I can and I want to help”, “Thinking about the Motherland”, “Try to
think”, “Advises of ecologist, psychologist and doctor”, “In the Family of Radio Virgin

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Mary”, “Music fascinations”. Still, the most controversial of all are the “Unfinished
discussions”, where the listeners confront their opinions on current socio-political situation in
Poland and in the world with the guests in the studio.
Despite the support given to Radio Virgin Mary by Polish clergy at the very beginning
of its existence, very quickly father Tadeusz Rydzyk and the Radio fell into disfavour of the
Episcopate. Open conflict between the Catholic hierarchy and father Director dates back to
1995. During almost 10 years, the Episcopate has been trying to convince or sometimes even
force father Rydzyk to changing his attitude towards various matters, but with now luck
What was the reason for this conflict of interests between the Episcopate and the
Radio? Why the Polish clergy is so averse to it? The first reason is definitely of a religious
character. Rydzyk is accused of misinterpreting the Catholic teachings and using them for
private purposes. Although he does not openly admit to be against the Pope, he manipulates
with his words in order to use them in the Radio propaganda. Polish priest working for
“L’Osservatore Romano” state, that Rydzyk is deeply convinced that he excersises God’s will
and therefore does not need the Pope’s mediation. He also claims to be the only true
representative of the Church and Polish Catholics as such. “You are the true God’s people.
Nobody shall tell you what you should be, how you should pray, how you should raise your
children, how you should achieve redemption.” – these are the words of Tadeusz Rydzyk.
Listening to him, we can remind ourselves of all the schismatics from the past. Does father
Rydzyk pursues to creating his own religion, a “Torun Catholic Church” that would stand
against the Roman Catholic one?
Except for the religious ones, the Episcopate has many other objections to the Radio
activity. One of them is the Radio active participation in political life in Poland. Since 1995,
during every electoral campaign father Rydzyk has supported right-wing parties or individual
candidates, usually with a great success. However, apart from leading campaigns in favour of
some politicians, Rydzyk has also led anti-campaigns against the ones he disliked. Anti-
campaigns during which he has many times insulted public officials, both MPs and the
president himself. In 1995 Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz, one of the candidates in the president
elections, was told to be Jewish and Mason and accused of not having a church marriage.
Later, all the contrcandidates of the president Lech Walesa were accused of collaboration with

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SB (Security Service in Poland before 1989). A popular social and political activist Jacek
Kuron was told to be responsible for the crimes of the Stalin period. Another time, when
liberalisation of the anti-abortion bill in Poland was discussed, Rydzyk compared all those
voting in favour of the bill to “prostitutes that had their heads shaved for having sexual
contacts with the Germans”.
Apart from that, the very ideological concept of the Radio is criticised not only by the
Church, but all the Radio opponents. Listening to the Radio it is easy to notice that everything
that is intellectual and tolerant is unknown to its creators. It concerns various issues, from
politics to public and social life, history, morality... Radio Virgin Mary is the voice of the
Polish radical right wing – nationalistic or even xenophobic, anti-liberal, anti-European and
anti-American. It cultivates hatred toward Jews, Masons and homosexuals. Rydzyk and his
co-workers create an image of Poland being endangered by some evil forces wanting to
destroy Polish culture and traditions, as well as Poland itself. It also presents highly
controversial opinions on matters like contraception, abortion, music, family...
To make the Radio ideology even more clear, I will use come citations from the Radio
broadcasts. One may find them funny, but in the longer perspective they are really horrifying.
- Father Rydzyk: The ultimate goal of homosexuality is fighting against the Church and
finally defeating it.
- Listener: ...lesbians, homosexuals, feminists and other deviants...
- Expert: Let’s consider the word COMPUTER. Replace the letters with appropriate
numbers, sum them up and multiply by 6. What do we get? 666. So, both computer and
internet are instruments of Satan.
- Expert: Television and computer games may be the cause for masturbation, which may
lead to future problems in creating family bonds. Recent research have proven that
masturbation is one of the primary reasons for divorces.
- Expert: The main danger for Polish women is feminism.
- Expert: Using contraception causes creation of so called “contraceptive mentality”. Such
a person suffers from loosening of the family bonds, has problem with bringing up
children, his/her marriage ends up with divorce. In the future life, he/she becomes a
sexual deviant and works in a porno business. The ultimate stage of degeneration is
accepting euthanasia.
- Listener: European Union trains the nation and especially the young people to becoming

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- Expert: The Lennon’s song “Imagine” tells us to imagine an anarchic world without God,
without faith, family, state or possession.
- Father Rydzyk: In my hands I’m holding a political programme of SLD (Social-
Democratic Alliance). I don’t know how am I gonna manage to clean these hands
- Father Rydzyk: Every liberal is a fool, and every fool is a liberal.
- Female listener: Where does this Polish anti-Semitism come from? Personally, I’m of this
Father Jacek: We all pity you...
- Listener: Why did Liberty Union (Polish liberal political party) got 7 ministries in the
government? Because menorah has 7 arms.
- Father Rydzyk: God, save us from this liberal ideology that is worse than the communism,
Nazism and totalitarian system.
- Father Rydzyk: In Brussels Europe integrates, but not in a Christian spirit. It integrates in
the liberal, Mason spirit.
- Father Rydzyk: Sects sell themselves like a new type of sanitary towels.
- Young Listener: My friends go to the discos, where they smoke LSD and inject themselves
- Expert: Techno music can be as addictive as drugs, because it causes the same chemical
reactions inside a human body. It also leads to sexual debauch.
- Expert: Listening to techno music may lead to uncontrolled defecation.
- Female Listener: Listening to techno may cause heart burst.
- Father Rydzyk: Every citizen is obliged not to fulfill the laws that are against the
teachings of the Catholic church.
- Father Jacek: A man fulfills himself as a man, and a woman fulfills herself as a mother.
- Father Rydzyk: The money in a family is to be kept by the husband.
- Father Rydzyk: Every family has to be numerous.
Considering all the information given in the above chapter, especially the enormity of
absurdity of the ideology presented by the Radio, it is hard to believe that the number of its
Polish listeners is almost 6 million people (plus the ones listening to the Radio through
satellite and internet). Who constitutes this enormous group of people, people so much

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devoted to the Radio and its director? In terms of age, these are definitely older people. 49%
of them are above 60 years old, and 32% between 40 and 59. Those between 25 and 39
constitute 14% of the listeners, 15-24 years old – 5%. In terms of education, the figures reflect
more or less the percentage of each group in the Polish society. 45% of the listeners have
completed primary education, 48% - various types of secondary education, and only 7% -
higher education. Among the listeners of the Radio, 70% are women and only 30% men.
However, apart from these data, it is also possible to draw a portrait of an average
Radio-listener. A typical listener of Radio Virgin Mary is a female over 54 years old (30% of
the listeners are widows and widowers), not well educated (mostly peasants and unqualified
workers), usually unemployed and in a difficult financial situation. A listener is usually still
living with the children, is neither interested in economy, budgets, laws, international affair,
politics, nor in culture, entertainment or science. Never goes to theatre or cinema, does not
read much, except for so called “women press” and Catholic newspapers, but never takes part
in any newspaper contest. Their only interest is faith and religion, and favourite free-time
activity is watching television (mainly Polish series and quizzes on Channel 1 of the Polish
Public Television). Leads all their life around the house, in a garden or yard. Major value in
life is family. Is very much attached to tradition.
Mainly thanks to people like this Radio Virgin Mary has throughout the years become
one of the biggest empires in Poland, a power that cannot be overestimated. Actions organised
by father Rydzyk mobilise thousands of people (in various years between 150 and 700 000).
A single word of father Director is enough to make them manifest in front of the Parliament,
create “black lists” of the MPs voting in favour of a bill criticised by Rydzyk, form “social
threesomes” harassing shop owners selling pornographic films, newspapers and objects,
boycott “improper” films and books, send protests and petitions to governmental
organizations and the Supreme Court... The Radio is supported by almost half of the Polish
bishops and has a significant representation in the Polish Parliament, meaning 36 MPs from a
right-wing political party League of Polish Families.
The influence of the Radio can be explained on various examples. During the 1997
parliamentary elections some of the candidates of a post-Solidarity party AWS (“Solidarity”
Electoral Action) were strongly supported by Radio Virgin Mary. Their names were regularly
read during the Radio broadcasts with a shocking effect: people candidating from very far
places on the lists got more votes than the best known Polish politicians!

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But still, the general attitude of the listeners of the Radio is best reflected in the
people’s voice itself. I will quote some of the statements of both the listeners and the priests
supporting the Radio.
- Male listener: For 3 months I’ve been listening only to Radio Virgin Mary. I threw out the
television, and I broke the radio knob as for nobody from my family could change the
channel. Now there is only your radio in my home. And I’m finally a really free man.
- Female listener: I will be giving half of my pension to my beloved Radio!
- Female listener: My husband had sold literally everything from our house on vodka. But I
got really irritated when he tried to sell the radio on which I listen to Radio Virgin Mary.
- Father Dariusz Pabis: Working in the Radio gives me an impression of doing something
important, being a part of the God’s plan, and I’m really happy and proud that I’ve been
appointed for that.
- Sister Julianna: Work in the Radio is a next step of my life an a nun. I have no doubts that
I’m a part of a greater plan. Working for the Radio is a blessing that I cheerfully fulfill.
- Agnes, studio staff: My whole family works in the Radio: my father, my mother and my
brother. I treat it as a kind of vocation and, what follows, a great responsibility. This work
gives me a lot of joy and satisfaction, and I’m happy I can be doing this.
- Bishop Edward Frankowski: Radio Virgin Mary has the courage to protect Polish
Catholic Church from the evil influences of all the liberals, modernists, Masons, all the
preachers of the New Age. It has the courage to protect it from the people of little faith,
who are ready to give up Poland and let it fall under the influences of modern pagans...
This sectarian character of the Radio is reflected in the way the Radio is organised.
Inside the buildings of the Radio everything is perfectly clean and orderly. All the volunteers
are smiling, extremely nice and helpful. However, if one asks an uncomfortable question, the
magic is gone and everybody in the Radio turns hostile and unapproachable. All the questions
can only be answered by father Director, who is, of course, never available. Still, the problem
may be even getting inside the seat of the Radio. Its terrain is surrounded with a high fence
with video cameras on the top of it and guarded by a security company. To contact any of the
regular Radio staff, one has to have appropriate references and an invitation.
But the empire is nowadays far more than just the Radio and its listeners gathered in a
loose organization called The Family of Radio Virgin Mary. The empire constitutes also of
various organization, associations and companies that are all linked by the person of Tadeusz
Rydzyk. Apart from the Family of Radio Virgin Mary, the Radio gathers its listeners also in
the Youth Circles of the Friends of Radio Virgin Mary and in the Rosary Circles (over 80 000

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children). Foundation Lux Veritatis produces and distributes films related to religious topics
or connected with the history and activity of the Radio (e.g. “We’re ten years old, just like
Radio Virgin Mary”). Foundation Our Future publishes a monthly magazine “The Family of
Radio Virgin Mary”. It also owns a shipping bookshop, a secondary school and a high school
in Szczecinek, both of them promoting national and religious values. Within the Foundation
Servire Veritati exist several educational institutions – Institute of National Education in
Lublin, Academy of National Education, Ethical and Pedagogical Academy and Academy of
Social Skills. There is also a University of Social and Media Culture in Torun. Father Rydzyk
owns also a private television channel (TV Trwam) and a daily newspaper “Nasz Dziennik”.
The phenomenon of Radio Virgin Mary is indisputable. Listened to by millions of
people from every social group, collecting huge amounts of money on its activity, mobilising
thousands of its listeners for various religious and political protests and campaigns. What is
the reason for such a great popularity of the Radio in Polish society? Or maybe we should
rather ask – what is the reason for its director, father Rydzyk, to be so influential? How
somebody subject to so much criticism from most of the Polish authorities and experts,
somebody accused of numerous frauds and embezzlements not to mention insulting many
public officials, managed to gain such a popularity?
Surely, it’s because of his personality. Rydzyk is undoubtedly an extremely active and
charismatic religious and social leader. Like the American tele-evangelists, he knows exactly
what to say to make people listen and follow him. He makes his listeners believe they are
discriminated and attacked by some evil forces (meaning Jews, Masons, communists,
liberals...). The only person able to protect them is, of course, father Rydzyk himself.
That is not all. It is a paradox, but also the mass disapproval of Rydzyk’s ideology and
activity gained him a lot of supporters. The nationwide criticism has been understood as an
attack on the only trustworthy and truthful person, father Rydzyk. Therefore, Rydzyk has
been granted a status of a martyr, oppressed for his beliefs. Also the criticism of the Radio
itself has been a very important element of Rydzyk’s propaganda. Listeners have been called
to protect their beloved radio. In order to do that, people have been encouraged to organise
money collections and public demonstrations, as well as to write protests and petitions to
various public organs. All these actions are coordinated by an association called “S.O.S. for
the Catholic voice in our homes”.

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Apart from the personality of father Rydzyk, there is also another thing that lies
behind the success of the Radio. It’s the formula of the Radio itself that makes it so popular.
Apart from the prayers and catechism, the Radio programme consists also of talks delivered in
a simple, easy to understand language and taking up various issues: from politics to cooking,
to family problems, to bringing up children, to abortion, to ecological, economic and social
situation of Poland... A significant part of the air time is devoted to direct contact with the
listeners, who can share their ideas and problems with others, alive, on the air. By calling the
Radio everyone can be heard by family and neighbours, everyone can have their “five
minutes” and feel like someone important.
Last but not least, the Radio answers all the needs of those unsatisfied with the
situation in Poland after the collapse of communism. It meets the expectations of the people
who suffer from problems that occurred in Poland after the year 1989: unemployment,
pornography, corruption, criminality... Mixing ultranationalism with fighting Catholicism, it
gets straight to those that feel disappointed with the democratic and capitalistic system. As
one of the Polish sociologists say, “it represents the ones lost in the transformation process,
whom it offers something in the shape of a psychological shelter, at the same time pointing
out those guilty of the situation.” We cannot also underestimate the Radio’s religious aspect,
since in the society where 95% of the population is considered Catholic, the religious
character of the Radio is especially important.
During the last 13 years, father Tadeusz Rydzyk has managed to build a real empire,
over which he has unlimited power. He is a leader of his own religious community cut out of
the Roman Catholic Church in Poland. He is the editor in chief and the main ideologist in his
own media kingdom. Radio Virgin Mary is a center for a well organised nationalistic and
deeply religious circle consisting of members of Polish intellectual elite, politicians, priests,
common listeners and Radio activists. Father Rydzyk himself has an enormous influence on
almost every sector of Polish public life. Some laugh at him and his ludicrous ideology. Still,
everybody fears him. Deservedly? Definitely yes. With the power, money, and social support
he has, he can achieve almost anything he wishes.
What will happen to Radio Virgin Mary and its listeners when father Rydzyk is gone?
Will he manage to find a proper replacement among his co-workers? Will his followers create
a new Church of their own? Well, only time will give us the answers...