Veterans of World War II’s Warsaw Uprising have released a statement criticizing a Polish archbishop’s anti-LGBTQ comments made during a Mass to honor the resistance fighters.
The statement was organized by Anna Przedpelska-Trzeciakowska, a 92-year-old who participated in the 1944 action against Nazi occupiers, and was signed onto by several other veterans. The cohort objected to remarks made by Krakow’s Archbishop Marek Jedraszewski during a Mass for the 75th anniversary of the Uprising. Jedraszewskid said Poland is suffering from a “rainbow disease” as he likened LGBTQ advocates to ruling parties who once oppressed the nation. The veterans replied, according to Queer.de:
“‘We do not know how many people there were – among our friends – whom the Creator gave the characteristics called LGBT. . .We only know that they were among us, who fought and died, and they deserve remembrance, respect and prayer. The message of the Archbishop, to whom we are deeply opposed as Christians and fellow-insurgents, has nothing to do with the Uprising.'”
Earlier this summer, World War II-era veterans in Poland condemned right wing groups who attacked Pride marchers in the city of Bialystok. The Association of Former Warsaw Resistance Fighters and the Foundation for the Remembrance of the Heroes of the Warsaw Uprising published a statement saying the right wing groups should have not used symbols of the Polish resistance in their attacks. The statement continued:
“‘There can be no approval of the humiliation of sexual minorities in a country where homosexuals were killed by fascists for their ‘differences’. . . [There must be action] before we repeat the mistakes of the Second World War, when the sick ideology of exclusion flooded the human mind.'”
In contrast, church leaders have continued to defend Jedraszewski. Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki of Poznań, the current head of the Polish Episcopal Conference, most recently opined in a homily, per Rzezcpospolita:
“‘Today, the prophets are also being thrown down as soon as they dare to tell the truth that obliges one to convert and change both in their personal and public lives. Therefore, the prophets must be slandered so that they lose their authority and remain silent. This was done with Blessed Jerzy Popiełuszko [an anti-Communist supporter of the Solidarity movement of the 1980s], whom they first tried to defame with the help of lies and provocation, and when this failed, he was tied up and thrown into the Vistula River [when the priest was killed]. Something similar is happening now with Archbishop Jędraszewski.'”
Gądecki previously said in an August 8th statement that an “ideological totalitarianism” was active against the archbishop and others who oppose LGBTQ equality. At least three other Polish bishops, as well as two cardinals outside the country and a Hungarian archbishop have voiced their support for Jędraszewski, too. These supporters have referred to Pride marchers as “ungodly people,” said advocates of equality pursue “the path of pagan godlessness,” and praised the archbishop for being willing to suffer persecution like Jesus Christ.
But some of Poland’s faithful have resisted the bishops’ harmful rhetoric, launching a Change.org petition (available here in Polish and here in English) that calls on the hierarchy and all LGBTQ-negative Catholics to end the harsh and deceitful rhetoric currently employed. The petition is a lengthy refutation using Scripture and tradition, as well as contemporary knowledge, against arguments being levied against LGBTQ people in Poland. This petition effort joins Fr. Pawel Gużyński, OP’s, call for people to write letters to the archbishop, a move for which Gużyński has been punished, and another priest, Fr. Andrzej Szostek, who made public comments. There have also been protestors outside the Apostolic Nunciature.
The situation involving Archbishop Jedraszewski must be read within the context of a Poland where the ruling Law and Justice Party has targeted LGBTQ people in its efforts to win upcoming elections. Each bishop who endorses the archbishop’s “rainbow plague” comment and contributes extreme rhetoric further endangers LGBTQ people. Fr. Gużyński has been forced to go on silent retreat for his courageous witness, but he provided contact information for Jedraszewski so that others can add their voices to the criticisms of these priests, the Polish resistance fighters, and the LGBTQ-positive faithful in Poland. If you would like to send a respectful note, you can use the information below:
Ksiądz Arcybiskup Marek Jędraszewski
ul. Franciszkańska 3, 31-004 Kraków
—Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, August 26, 2019