Catholic lead­ers try­ing to cor­rect sins of Poland’s gov’t

The Prince George Citizen - - SPORTS -

WARSAW, Poland — Stand­ing at an out­door pul­pit at Poland’s holi­est Ro­man Catholic site, the na­tion’s top church leader de­liv­ered a mes­sage to the pres­i­dent and prime min­is­ter seated be­fore him: Poland must show com­pas­sion to refugees and re­spect its own Con­sti­tu­tion.

Arch­bishop Wo­j­ciech Po­lak’s words were un­der­stood by many Poles as crit­i­cism of the coun­try’s con­ser­va­tive lead­ers. Though man­i­festly Catholic and at­tached to the church, they have pur­sued poli­cies so hos­tile to mi­grants that they would seem to con­tra­dict the prin­ci­ple of com­pas­sion their re­li­gion teaches. They also have pur­sued re­forms widely viewed as un­demo­cratic.

The arch­bishop’s ad­mo­ni­tion, along with dis­ap­prov­ing re­marks from other re­li­gious lead­ers in the home­land of sainted Pope John Paul II, sig­nal that the in­flu­en­tial Catholic Church sees a need to cor­rect the path of the coun­try’s gov­ern­ing politi­cians.

The church’s re­proach, while so far de­liv­ered diplo­mat­i­cally, raises the ques­tion of whether the rul­ing Law and Jus­tice party could be at risk of los­ing some of its wide sup­port among be­liev­ers in a coun­try where nine out of 10 cit­i­zens iden­tify as Catholic.

“We must be open and com­pas­sion­ate and ready to help those most needy, weak and per­se­cuted, mi­grants and refugees,” Po­lak said dur­ing a mass cel­e­brated at the Jasna Gora shrine in the city of Czesto­chowa to hon­our church-state re­la­tions.

An­other prom­i­nent bishop, Tadeusz Pieronek, went fur­ther re­cently, ac­cus­ing lead­ers of con­sciously “vi­o­lat­ing the Con­sti­tu­tion” as they over­haul the ju­di­ciary sys­tem. He called it “vil­lainy.”

Law and Jus­tice party came to power in 2015 thanks in part to the sup­port of the church.

At the height of Europe’s mi­grant cri­sis, which came dur­ing Poland’s 2015 elec­tion cam­paign, Law and Jus­tice leader Jaroslaw Kaczyn­ski ad­vo­cated anti-mi­grant at­ti­tude, say­ing mi­grants posed a threat be­cause they might carry “par­a­sites and pro­to­zoa,” a com­ment crit­i­cized for in­cit­ing xeno­pho­bia.

A 2016 visit from Pope Fran­cis did lit­tle to budge the Pol­ish au­thor­i­ties from their un­yield­ing re­fusal to ac­cept refugees or mi­grants.

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