A priest in Poland has been punished for publicly criticizing a top archbishop who referred to the campaign for LGBTQ equality as a “rainbow disease.” A war of words has erupted in Poland, with advocates for both clergymen making statements.
Earlier this month, Dominican Fr. Pawel Gużyński encouraged Catholics to write Krakow’s Archbishop Marek Jedraszewski and ask him to resign over the archbishop’s harsh comments against LGBTQ people. But now Gużyński’s provincial, Fr. Pawl Kozacki, has apparently punished Gużyński by sending the priest on a multi-week penitential silent retreat so he can “find the right way for a clergyman to speak on matters of faith and morals and to conduct ideological disputes,” reported Polsat News.
Gużyński’s call for the archbishop’s resignation was posted on Facebook August 4th, three days after Jedraszewski compared LGBTQ advocates to Poland’s oppressive Communist government. The Dominican priest appealed online:
“When I was an Amnesty International activist many years ago, we sent letters to various institutions around the world regarding persecuted people to create constant pressure. We did it for as long as the case did not find any meaningful end.
“I suggest that we start sending letters tomorrow to Archbishop Jędraszewski with the expectation that he will resign honorably because of his words about the ‘rainbow disease’.
“I don’t mean a church rebellion!!! If we do it together, consistently and with due respect for the office of a bishop, it will at least have the strength of our decency. Such is our Catholic letter writing marathon.
“Our own passivity destroys us, which is why I start tomorrow, one letter or e-mail a week until the end (even if I’m the only one).”
Another priest, Fr. Andrzej Szostek, was likewise outspoken against the archbishop. Szostek noted TVN 24 that Jędraszewski failed to condemn the violence inflicted on Pride marchers in Bialystok last month when police had to intervene against right-wing attackers. The priest commented:
“There wasn’t a single word on it. One word about this event, this scandal, what I think was not only deeply anti-human, but also deeply anti-Christian. What those who attacked members of the Equality March did was hit the Lord Jesus on the cheek. This is introducing the Trojan horse to the Church. . .Jesus is open to everyone. For him there are no strangers, no enemies, no one to turn his back on, no one to attack. They want to justify this kind of action in the name of Christianity? This is more than a scandal for me.”
Opposition to Jędraszewski’s comments was also voiced during a rally outside the Apostolic Nunciature in Krakow where protesters called for the Catholic Church to reform itself not only on LGBTQ issues, but on clergy sexual abuse. One critic, law professor Monika Platek, even suggested the archbishop had broken the law in making anti-LGBTQ comments.
But many church leaders in Poland are defending Jędraszewski, with some adding their own salvos against LGBTQ equality. Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki of Poznań released an August 8th statement calling on people to not discriminate against opponents of LGBTQ equality amid this summer’s tensions, reported Crux. Gądecki, who heads the Polish Bishops’ Conference, wrote, in part:
“Hence my appeal to local authorities not to make decisions that – under the guise of counteracting discrimination – would conceal the ideology that denies the natural gender difference and complementarity between men and women. I also appeal to parliamentarians to resist the far-reaching plans of LGBT+ milieus, that aim to change Polish law in order to introduce the so-called “homosexual marriage” and the possibility of adoption children by them.
“The wave of criticism that affected the Metropolitan of Cracow, the archbishop and professor, as well as the reactions of employers towards people expressing their disapproval of LGBT+ ideology, testify to the ideological totalitarianism rooted in certain milieus, consisting in removing people who think differently outside the sphere of freedom. Therefore, I appeal to all people of good will to apply the principle of non-discrimination in public discussion not only to the supporters of the mentioned ideology, but also to allow its opponents on equal rights to debate.”
Bishop Miroslaw Milewski, an auxiliary of Plock, described Pride marches in a homily as “immoral” and composed of “ungodly people,” reported MSN. Milewski warned that Catholics must protect themselves from “sick LGBT ideology.” He offered a Marian prayer to “save us from the evil that wants to conquer the minds and souls of Poles,” namely LGBTQ equality, that included this line, “Mary, save young people seeking their identity so that they will not be seduced by fashionable slogans about freedom and tolerance, which in fact lead to enslavement and depravity.” MSN reported that the bishop previously identified banning gay men from the priesthood as a key action in ending clergy sexual abuse.
Archbishop Andrzej Dziega of Szczecin-Kamien ordered priests to read a letter at Mass on “the path of God’s truth against the path of pagan godlessness” that also picked up on Polish resistance to Nazi and Soviet occupiers. In the letter, Dziega criticized the Pride marches which have been organized in several Polish cities this year. He said the events were seeking to promote sin and to impose LGBTQ education on children in schools.
Elsewhere, Bishop Wieslaw Mering of Włocławek expressed “appreciation and admiration” for Jędraszewski because he did not “submit to political correctness” and was willing to face persecution like Jesus Christ, reported PCh24.pl. A statement of support came from Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, former prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for Catholic Education, as well as one from Cardinal Dominik Duka of Prague who called on bishops in Slovakia and Hungary to likewise back Krakow’s archbishop.
Fr. Pawel Gużyński may be forced to contemplate in silence for a few weeks, but one provincial’s actions cannot stop the faithful from making known their opinions to Catholic pastors for the good of the church. If you would like to send a respectful message to Archbishop Jedraszewski, Gużyński has provided the following contact information:
Ksiądz Arcybiskup Marek Jędraszewski
ul. Franciszkańska 3, 31-004 Kraków
—Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, August 14, 2019