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Polish software mogul donates papal home to Church

Written by: Staff
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KRAKOW, Poland, Apr 1 (Reuters) One of central Europe's wealthiest businessmen has donated the childhood home of the late Pope John Paul II to Poland's Roman Catholic church to use as a museum, the Krakow Archdiocesan spokesman said today.

Ryszard Krauze, the founder of Poland's leading software firm Prokom, yesterday officially turned the title to the building over to Krakow Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz, Karol Wojtyla's aide for four decades, Father Robert Necek said.

The move was welcomed in the southern town in the Tatra Mountain foothills, whose citizens are commemorating the first anniversary of their native son's death. ''The home of John Paul II has been placed in the best possible hands,'' said Stanislaw Kotarba, a Wadowice municipal official.

During a 1999 meeting with thousands of worshippers in the Wadowice square, John Paul was nostalgic when recalling his boyhood adventures and pointing to his former family home.

''We lived in a flat in that building there which had belonged to Mr Balamuth. I wonder whatever became of him. He is probably dead,'' John Paul said, referring to his former landlord.

Last year, Ron Balamuth, a Jewish American who inherited the building, announced he planned to sell it but the details of the transaction had been kept secret.

''In accordance with the wishes of the Balamuth Family one of the rooms of the building will be turned into a Papal Holocaust Memorial,'' Jacek Michalski of the Ballantine Law firm, representing the Balamuth family, told Reuters.

Balamuth, whose father was the only family member to survive the Holocaust, wanted to commemorate in this way the first pope to pray in a synagogue and at Jerusalem's wailing Wall.

Krauze, 50, estimated to be worth nearly 1 billion dollars, began dabbling in software in the late 1980s and within a decade turned his company into a Warsaw-listed software powerhouse, largely thanks to lucrative government contracts.

REUTERS DKS BST1755

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