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    Sunday, July 01, 2007

    Free Poland


    Warsaw, Jun. 29, 2007 (CWNews.com) - The Polish government will not accept the portion of the the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union that covers issues of discrimination on the basis of sexual preference.

    Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski has announced that Poland will not grant legal recognition to same-sex unions, saying that the step would violate the country's cultural heritage. He pointed out that Poland had joined the European Union with the understanding that the sovereignty of the nation would be respected on matters of culture. The recognition of marriage, he said, falls into that category.

    The Polish government has been in conflict with leaders of the European Union over issues involving the treatment of homosexuality. The announcement by Kaczynski appears likely to bring that conflict to a head.
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    Even Italy is too secular to have qualms about the ruination of morals. But here is Poland at a particular point in its history. Having survived not being a country for 100 years, then communism, it has been free just lately. Being Catholic and speaking Polish were what it held on to in order to survive.
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    Poland is way behind the curve regarding all the little slides down the slope to abandoned moral concepts, so still is a strong voice of what used to be normal. Something like vinyl vs. digital.
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    Of course, the already secularized are just waiting for Poland to catch up to the times, like Spain and Portugal. It would probably happen that way if not for the unique Polish clergy. They still take themselved seriously and are taken seriously by the people.
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    On the one hand, the people in the pews are holy through a folk religion understanding of Catholic. More obedience than learned. That's OK in that it will get you to heaven's gate. But in the world it puts them in the same jeopardy as Mexicans and South Americans who it seems are escaping to charismatic feel good hype and prosperity preaching.
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    On the other hand, being Catholic has been and still is what it means to be Polish. That will take a while to fade. Before it fades, like the South American Bishops have recently realized, it is time for learning and catechesis. Time is hopefully on Poland's side.
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    And for the EU in the meantiime, they find themselves with an irritating Polish moral voice to deal with. How refreshing, and perhaps saving. A little remnant as it seems is the way of things Christian.
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    Perhaps related is the often political sermons the Polish are fed, even here in the U.S.A..
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    I have heard people from Polish groups complaining often that Father went on and on about politics... usually politics regarding things back in Poland. The young especially, who are ignorant of things political, don't get much of a meaningful message on Sundays when the topic is politics.
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    So here is a Vatican represenative saying cool it. But I wonder. It would be a shame if removing politics from sermons would damage one of the things that might be making Poland nicely different.
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    It is hard to know how many pieces of Polish Catholicism to change without becoming another Spain.
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    WARSAW, Poland (CNS) – The Vatican's ambassador to Poland has called on Catholic clergy to stop preaching politicized homilies.
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    "I wish liturgical services in Poland would not turn into public rallies and just dispose people to be more human and more Catholic," said Archbishop Jozef Kowalczyk, the Vatican's ambassador, or nuncio.

    "We need priests, not politicians – and if politicians, then politicians of God's word," said the archbishop, whose sermon was carried by Poland's Catholic information agency, KAI. "We also need evangelists, not economists – we have enough of those already in Poland to do the job. Let's work on their spirit and conscience so they'll become true professionals in serving all society. This is the mission of a priest."
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    Preaching June 11 in Czuma, near Lublin, the nuncio said: "The times are over when people went to priests on every occasion, to arrange plumbing or telephones for their villages, and elected priests as council chairmen hoping they'd organize such things. This epoch has ended."
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    The dean of Poznan University's theology faculty, Father Pawel Bortkiewicz, defended the right of Catholic bishops to "speak out on public issues." He told KAI June 14 that he believed Corpus Christi processions were a good occasion for "raising political and social questions."
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    However, Dominican Father Maciej Zieba, a theologian, said church leaders should remember they were "preaching now in a free Poland, with freedom of speech and political democracy" and should be guided by "slightly different rules than in totalitarian countries."

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