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Polish Catholics take fight to ultraconservative priests, bishops: “We want the Church back”

A group of Polish Catholics is protesting “that there is less and less of Jesus’s message present” in the Catholic Church in the country.

Driving the news

The collective, calling itself “We want the Church back”, is organising demonstrations of “protest and solidarity” for this Thursday October 10 in the cities of Krakow and Szczecin.

The reason for the actions are the sermons all too frequently offered by ultraconservative Polish clergy “dividing people and spreading hostility towards others instead of teaching about our merciful God”, the group explained in a petition.

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The big picture

In that manifesto, We want the Church back went further and said they are fed up with the words of priests and bishops that are “full of fear… condemnation and hate”.

“We have had enough of looking at the faces of Church in Poland, which is represented almost only by bishops and priests. The Church is not just them”, the group insisted.

“We can no longer call Church our home, because instead of hope and courage, it is filled with fear and condemnation”, the Polish faithful said.

“We do not hear much of the Word of the merciful God who came to save all the humankind in our Church anymore.

“We are not able to find teachings of Pope Francis who asks to welcome those who are different from us: by their race, origin, faith or sexual orientation”.

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Go deeper

We want the Church back cited as particular examples of their priests’ and bishops’ “condemnation and hate” their attitude towards LGBT+ people, Jews, Muslims and non-believers.

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The Polish faithful’s criticism of the LGBT+-phobia of the hierarchy came just days after Krakow Archbishop Marek Jedraszewski again compared the LGBT+ rights movement to totalitarianism.

“These are the words that repel many faithful from the Church, as well as exclude LGBT+ Catholics, their families and friends”, We want the Church back denounced.

“With humbleness and respect we want to apologize all the people that got offended and humiliated”, the movement added, explaining: “We cannot accept that”.

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Why it matters

The group of Polish Catholics also warned in their petition against the “partisan politics” in the Church in the country, just days out from parliamentary elections this Sunday October 13.

“We do not accept that too many bishops and priests support openly the political parties – the governing or any other one”, We want the Church back said.

“We do not want the faithful people participating in the Holy Mass to be frightened with ideologies that supposedly force them to abandon their faith”, they continued.

Another issue the group referred to was the crisis of clergy sex abuse in Poland.

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Deploring the bishops’ lack of empathy with victims, general “negligence” and “hypocrisy” around sexual morality, the collective said:

“We want the people that commit the acts of pedophilia or that cover them up to be held liable”.

“The Church should disarm and not reinforce… social aggression”, We want the Church back added, lamenting the “divisions” not only in politics but also in families for which they hold bishops responsible.

“Instead of going to war against an abstract, imaginary enemy, we want to fight against the mental abuse and physical violence that in reality occurs in Polish homes – including, let’s not hide it – the Catholic ones. Its victims are the weakest: children, elderly, women”, the group exhorted.

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What’s next

We want the Church back said their protests in Krakow and Szczecin Thursday are motivated by the “pity” they feel for the Catholic hierarchy in Poland.

The Catholics said that although they still feel like they are part of the Church, “at the same time it is getting more and more difficult to find our place in it”.

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“There are lots of us”, the faithful warned.

The actions this Thursday will revolve around testimonies from disaffected Catholics, a silent candlelight vigil and a debate with faithful and theologians.

“We want this initiative to be the beginning of an honest discernment and discussion about the issues that are important for us”, the group explained.

“We want to think about how to act so that the Church in Poland can become a source of hope and not fear”.

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Cameron Doody

Director and editor at Novena
PhD in ancient Jewish/Christian history and philosophy. Lecturer in ethics at Loyola University Maryland, Alcalá de Henares (Spain) campus. Religion journalist with 4 years experience.