Commentary Religion

The Polish ideological war

As the Polish ideological war escalates and anti-clerical behaviors are on the rise, the Catholic Church faces an important lesson on love, writes Michał Szułdrzyński.

Escalation of violence is a dangerous phenomenon. Physical attacks on priests and vandalization of chapels or churches are the unfortunate result of earlier hate speech against Catholicism, which is becoming increasingly popular not only among the radical left but is also poisoning social media and approaching the Center. 

If we connect the homophobic behavior of the far-right with the violence at Białystok’s pride parade, then it’s hard not to create a parallel cause-effect chain between the harsh rhetoric against the Church and increasing anti-Catholic violence. 

I was criticized for comparing symbolic and physical violence. It is true, that they are different, but some things connect them. 

An attack on someone’s religious feelings is an attack on what is most important for them - faith can be the conviction of a world order. I respect someone’s religious beliefs not because I share their faith, but because I respect their humanity, expressed through their faith.

Physical violence comes from a similar dehumanization – I don’t hit someone because I consider them my neighbor. I hit them, because I don’t acknowledge their humanity. 

The spiral of aggression is also an issue for the Church, as after each attack there is the temptation for the Church to adopt warfare logic. Many priests and hierarchs seem to behave as if they were in an ideological war. 

Meanwhile, Christianity, as underlined by St. John Paul II, is not an ideology. Assaults strengthen the mentality of a fortress under siege: the stronger they strike at us, the more right we are. Peace becomes nothing and war – everything. 

The question is, whether such a stance will be attractive to young Poles. Too often does the catholic orthodoxy come down to sexuality and some priests seem to be obsessed with it. Many of the Church’s people voluntarily fight the enemies of ethics and family, but in reality, every other marriage is breaking apart in towns. 

It’s easier to say that Polish families are threatened by gender and LGBT than to create a good priesthood for marriages and to teach youth about love and responsibility. 

Pope Francis underlined that the Church is not doing enough in preparing people for marriage. By emphasizing its procreative role, however, he forgets that in such an atomized world, friendship and mutual support in marriage are priceless.

An important lesson in teaching love is ahead of the church, but I’m afraid that the next attacks will be an excuse to not heed that lesson.

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