A Polish archbishop has lashed out at an “evil” gender equality Charter for public life adopted by the town hall of his see, in Poznań.

– “Deep unease” at “ideological interference”

Stanisław Gądecki, the Archbishop of Poznań and President of the Polish Bishops’ Conference, issued an attack February 14 on the European Charter for Equality of Men and Women in Local Life and on its adoption in the local town hall as a series of guiding principles for civic co-existence.

The gender equality Charter was drawn up in 2006 by the Council of European Municipalities and Regions – partly funded by the European Commission – and adopted by the Poznań City Council February 11.

The gender equality Charter contains such seemingly unobjectionable principles as that of the “equality of women and men constitutes a fundamental right” and “the balanced participation of women and men in decision making is a pre-requisite of a democratic society”.

But Gądecki showed himself not at all in agreement with those principles that modern European society takes for granted.

In that sense, the archbishop said that “in a spirit of responsibility for the safety of families, children, and young people as well as care for the good of future generations and the flourishing of our region, I express my deep unease at the adoption of European Charter of Equality by the Poznań City Council”.

The archbishop cited “the opinion of many Poznanian families, NGOs and experts” . all unnamed – to argue the gender equality Charter “interferes in a serious way with the constitutional right of parents to raise their children according to their beliefs”.

In the Charter, Gądecki continued, “new ideological meanings are given to such words as family, equality and tolerance, questioning the fundamental role of the family in the life of society and interfering in an erroneous manner in the area of human sexuality and its development”.

The prelate even went so far as to fret that the gender equality Charter represents an “ideological interference” in business and even “a threat to economic freedom”.

That’s because of the obligation of municipal signatories to the Charter “to use [their] democratic mandate” to “encourage” even private business “to take actions to ensure, in practice, the right to equality of women and men”.

According to Gądecki, though, “the promotion of employees for reasons other than professional qualifications is in conflict with the practice of effective management”.

– An opening for the “evil” of “gender ideology”

The Archbishop of Poznań reserved his harshest criticism of the gender equality Charter, however, for its insistence that inequalities between women and men “are the results of social constructs built upon numerous stereotypes present in the family, education, culture, the media, the world of work [and] the organisation of society”.

For Gądecki and other ultraconservative Catholics, the language of gender “stereotypes” undermines the biological differences between the sexes which, according to traditional Catholic teaching, are willed by God.

In that sense, though Gądecki did begrudingly praise for the gender equality Charter for “its worthy response to the question of inequality between women and men in public life”, the prelate did warn that “in practice” the Charter “creates an occasion for the promotion of gender ideology”.

The archbishop added that even “Pope Francis recognises this ideology as one of the chief manifestations of evil in the world today”, though the truth is that the current Pope, or at least compared to previous ones, has been a tireless defender, too, of women’s dignity.

In fact, Francis argued as recently as last week’s post-Amazon Synod apostolic exhortation, Querida Amazonia, that women should be allowed to make a “real and effective impact” and to have a say in “the most important decisions and the direction of communities”, and that much “in a way that reflects their womanhood”.

– Death threats at the City Council vote

Gądecki also said it was “a matter of concern” that the gender equality Charter was adopted in Poznań “without sufficient public consultation and without taking into account the opposing vote of thousands of Poznań residents”.

According to local media reports, however, the Charter was adopted in the City Council with proper democratic guarantees, with 13 town councillors voting in favour and 10 voting against.

Protesters were even allowed to demonstrate outside the Council chambers, holding rosary beads, candles, Polish flags, and banners proclaiming “LGBTQ is mentally molesting Poznan residents with the agreement of city councillors. Shameful and disgraceful” or “Stop false ideologies”.

After the Poznań Council voted to adopt the gender equality Charter, some demonstrators shouted “disgrace, treason, traitors!”.

Those words were taken by City Council Chairman Grzegorz Ganowicz as a death threat, given that Ganowicz pleaded with protesters to “reign in their emotions” and “please remember what happened in Gdansk!”, in an apparent reference to the murder of the city’s progressive mayor, Pawel Adamowicz, in 2019.

It’s hard to imagine those “emotions” and those death threats would be tolerated at all without the theological backing of ultraconservative Polish bishops like Gądecki.

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PhD in ancient Jewish/Christian history and philosophy. University ethics lecturer with 4 years' experience in religion journalism.