Poles are afraid of the Catholic Church. And I am not talking about the Catholic sinners who are embarrassed by the fear of their pastor or confessional. I am talking about us, Poles who remember Adam Sapiecha’s legend, the struggle of the Church against communism, the heroism of Kazimierz Majdanski, and the holiness of Karol Wojtyla – the first and probably last Polish pope.
We are afraid of cultural and social ostracism, which may surround us if we start talking loudly about what Leszek Jazdzewski said in his speech and what had been said even earlier, more or less in the language of diplomacy by Tischner, Boniecki, Lemanski, or Sowa. Yet, Smarzowski’s movie Clergy changed this a little bit.
How much? Not enough. And although I do not agree with Jazdzewski’s language and with the generalization that he makes, the condemnation a priori of everything that the Church and it’s members do, I do understand his anger and frustration. The Church prepared such a language for itself.
The Church was important in the life of the Republic of Poland, whether someone likes it or not. It was also important in my life, especially until the mid-1990s. It was synonymous with the fight for freedom, and today, it is synonymous of the fight with the freedom. Hiding pedophiles and unclear explanations of the Episcopate hit the already heavily tarnished reputation of Excellency in purples.
Added to this are the Byzantine customs of parish priests and even bishops, often with bodily pleasures and alcohol. As Augustine of Hippo said: “Wandering is a human thing, but to persist voluntarily in error is a devil’s thing”.
The Polish Church of today is, in its essence, more devilish than the fallen angel himself. It’s a devilishly conscious persistence in error.
Church and Politics
When I am reading Pope Francis’ encyclical The Light of Faith, I do not see in it the path followed by the Polish Church:
“The reminder of the bond between faith and truth is more necessary today than ever, precisely because of the crisis of truth that we are experiencing.”
You are a part of this crisis, the Catholic Church, and your greatest sin is to remain in it consciously. You have become involved in politics, you are an active part of the political game about the temporal goods. You lost your ability to anticipate tomorrow. You’re sinful, and you pretend to have a mandate from Pope Francis to Christianize the Republic of Poland.
No, you don’t. Jazdzewski’s words may hurt you and should hurt you, but the answer cannot be arresting by the police at seven o’clock in the morning a 51-year-old woman who distributed the image of the Mother of Jesus in a rainbow halo. This is not the way of Pope Francis, this is not the way of Jesus Christ. This is the way of the Pharisees.
When the Law and Justice party clearly violated the Constitution, you remained silent. When Law and Justice humiliated the disabled, you also kept silent, and when the party humiliated teachers and judges, you applauded them from the pulpit. When the police, headed by the Polish Minister of Interior and Administration, entered the apartment of a 51-year-old woman at seven o’clock in the morning, you kept quiet as well.
Therefore, you, the Catholic Church, have no moral right to be offended. You are a part of the politics of today, you have to take into account the consequences of your participation in politics and that’s just the beginning.
The Sin of Abandonment of the Church in Ireland
We’re afraid of the Church. We are afraid to speak out and collectively fight against the evil that has dominated the hierarchy governing the Catholic Church in Poland.
We are afraid because the Church also includes thousands of great and devout priests. A type of church that preaches thrilling Dominican sermons, is full of Franciscan goodness, and caring for the weakest Albertine sisters.
We are afraid of losing our national-Catholic identity and destroying the myth of the chosen people, whom, of course, we are not; however, we like to think about ourselves in this manner, because who wouldn’t want to be perceived as the chosen nation?
The Church cultivates this desire carefully, and even fuels it, but participates in a political propaganda machine in exchange for more influence, money, and privileges. Everything that is the antithesis of the pontificate of Pope Francis, which John Paul II warned against when he visited Ireland in the late 1970s.
A dozen years later, Catholic Ireland disintegrated like a house of cards. Pedophilia scandals, rape, financial embezzlement, sexual promiscuity. The Irish Church’s disaster was complemented by a report on the Diocese of Cloyne, which showed how the Church had covered up the cases of sexual harassment.
No other social group defends its members against criminal prosecution for serious crimes in such a structured way.
When I listened to the Episcopal Conference on pedophilia in the Church, at which Archbishop Jedraszewski denied the slogan zero tolerance; I saw in my mind priests in Ireland collapsing. How different and distant was it from actually kissing the hand one of the pedophilia victims of one of Polish priests by Pope Francis…
Politicians in the Cassocks
We’re afraid of the Church. But there may come a time when the marriage of the throne and the altar will turn the privileges and influences of the Church into dust.
Often, when pride strengthens the people’s conviction that their power is unlimited and enduring, something completely different happens. The history is full of spectacular falls that were not supposed to happen. Catholic Ireland is a very spectacular example.
The revolution will not change the Polish Church, but neither will waiting for the self-reflection of the hierarchs who govern. The Church can be changed by its members: parish priests, curators, politicians, publicists, prosecutors, teachers, journalists, and so on, and so forth.
To do so, however, one needs courage and to listen to the words spoken by Pope Francis. The paths followed by the Church are determined by hard-headed politicians in the cassocks, who do not seem to understand the seriousness of the role they should play today in the Church, in Poland, in the European Union.
Be Like Francis!
So instead of being offended, Your Excellency Archbishop, better think about the reasons for the criticism, where and why did it come from? Draw conclusions, if you’re in politics, don’t take umbrage at someone who stirs a polemical response to you.
If you do not want to be gravediggers of faith in Poland, if you do not want a political repetition in relations between the State and the Church in the style of Ireland or Spain, if you do not want to watch passively how in a few years left-wing political parties will marginalize your voice in a political debate, taking away your wealth and privileges, start reforming yourself.
Leave politics to politicians, stop legitimizing violations of the law and the denial of the fundamental values of a democratic state by the government of the Law and Justice party. Apologize for the wickedness committed and for the medieval ambitions to decide on the bodies and minds of women and make the Church again necessary for the people who are in need of spiritual guidance.