A Polish priest has admitted that the Church “has made mistakes” in the abortion debate and called on the country’s Bishops to apologise for their role in provoking the social unrest over a new court ruling on the voluntary interruption of pregnancies.
Dominican Father Paweł Gużyński appeared on Polish television station TVN24 October 30 to address the protesters who have been demonstrating nationwide for over a week against an October 22 Constitutional Tribunal ruling that outlawed the abortion of fetuses that have serious and irreversible birth defects.
“You are protesting rightly: you are protesting because my Church has made mistakes and indirectly provoked a situation in which you have to protest because a certain social welfare, a delicate social balance, has been violated”, Gużyński told demonstrators.
From 1993 to the latest Constitutional Tribunal ruling, a delicate “compromise” abortion law was in force in Poland, under which voluntary interruptions of pregnancies were allowed in three cases: where there was a threat to the woman’s life or health, where the pregnancy had been a result of a criminal act such as rape or incest, or where the fetus presented serious malformations.
But the Polish Bishops have been repeatedly calling on the governing Law and Justice (PiS) party to take action to protect all life from the moment of conception, and it is widely understood that that pressure from the prelates played a large part in the latest decision of the Constitutional Tribunal, which has been heavily politicised by PiS.
– Bishops should say sorry but they “do not have enough courage”
On television Friday Gużyński stressed once again that “the Church has made mistakes” with its anti-abortion lobbying. “I apologise to you for that”, the Dominican said to protesters, adding however that it wasn’t for him to apologise, but that instead “the Bishops should come out and say that”.
The priest lamented that with the new court ruling a very delicate balance on abortion in Poland has been broken – a compromise he acknowledged was worked on for a long time and which has worked well. The balance has now broken down and led to a difficult situation, Gużyński decried.
Not, however, that the priest expected the Polish Bishops would apologise anytime soon for their role in stirring up social unrest.
“They [the Bishops] do not have enough courage” to criticise the PiS and the Constitutional Tribunal for a “disgraceful” decision that provoked protests in the middle of a pandemic and increased the threat to public health, Gużyński decried.
– A warning to protesters against the “desire for revenge”
His harsh words for the Polish Catholic hierarchy aside, the Dominican had a stern warning, too, for the demonstrators, saying that their “rightful anger” over the abortion ruling “does not entitle” them to endanger their own or others’ safety.
“Not only does the COVID virus threaten us, but also a virus in the form of hatred, a desire for revenge”, Gużyński cautioned protesters, advising them that “revolution is not a wise philosophy”.
“If this anger turns into aggression against the faithful, the churches, praying people, it is a bad idea. Whoever tells you otherwise is not wise”, the Dominican alerted.
Just this Wednesday the anti-abortion ruling protests brought together 430,000 people in 410 demonstrations across Poland in what Wojciech Szacki, the head of the political department at Polityka Insight analysis centre has called the most multitudinous revolts in the country since the fall of communism in 1989.
According to Polish Interior Ministry figures, at least 22 churches have been broken into during the protests and 79 chuch buildings have been vandalised. 76 people have been arrested in connection with those alleged crimes, police said.