To protest Warsaw Archbishop Marek Jedraszewski’s record of anti-LGBTQ statements, several Polish activists demonstrated in front of a Catholic parish where he was presiding at Mass. Reuters reported:
“The church in Poland’s capital, full of worshippers, was surrounded by police in armored cars, while protesters carried banners reading: ‘I do not tolerate intolerance’, ‘Rainbow plague welcomes you’ and ‘Archbishop Jedraszewski should resign’.
“‘We are protesting against archbishop Jedraszewski,’ said filmmaker Bartosz Staszewski, 29. ‘We are not a rainbow plague, as he has said. We are the citizens of this country and we want to look him in the face.'”
During a homily last year, Jedraszewski stated that “Poland was under siege from a ‘rainbow plague’ of gay rights campaigners.” Later, the archbishop equated Polish LGBTQ activists with the oppressive regime that ruled Poland in the late 20th century. At the time, some Catholics, like Dominican Fr. Pawel Gużyński, and veterans of the Warsaw Uprising, who were being honored during the Mass during which the archbishop made his comments, condemned Jedraszewski’s words.
But not all Catholics have been so critical. Bishop Wieslaw Mering of Włocławek who said the archbishop was being persecuted like Jesus for refusing to “submit to political correctness.” Several other Polish bishops, as well as church leaders in the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary expressed their support.
The Catholic Church in Poland remains very influential in matters of politics, law, and culture. Anti-LGBTQ rhetoric has been a dominant focus of Poland’s nationalist ruling political party, Law and Justice. Reuters reported that “[t]he party sees cultural attitudes as having a strong influence on voters’ decisions.” Nearly one-third of the country’s towns and regions have declared themselves “LGBT Free Zones.” And last summer, a Pride march in Bialystok was attacked, while Poland’s bishops had remained silent about anti-LGBTQ violence in the past.
As Bondings 2.0 has stated before, Archbishop Jedraszewski’s comments are deeply troubling, especially in light of the violence, discrimination, and prejudice the Polish LGBTQ community endures. Equating LGBTQ people or any segment of God’s creation to a “plague” denigrates the sanctity and beauty of God’s beloved children. Moreover, LGBTQ issues become life issues within the scope of Catholic Social Teaching and justice when we understand that LGBTQ suicide is the result of the bullying, harassment, and bigotry. Although it is promising to see Polish civil society fight back against such harmful anti-LGBTQ rhetoric, those efforts should also be supported, rather than stymied, by Polish Catholic leaders.
—Brian William Kaufman, New Ways Ministry, March 12, 2019