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Polish Archbishop Speaks Out as Protesters Disrupt Masses After Abortion Ruling

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Polish archbishop speaks out as protesters disrupt Masses after abortion ruling

CNA Staff, Oct 25, 2020 / 03:30 pm (CNA).- The president of Poland’s bishops’ conference has urged critics of a landmark abortion ruling to express their opposition “in a socially acceptable way” after protesters disrupted Sunday Masses.

Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki issued the appeal Oct. 25, after the country’s constitutional court ruled Thursday that a law permitting abortion for fetal abnormalities was unconstitutional.

In a highly anticipated ruling, the Constitutional Tribunal in Warsaw declared that the law introduced in 1993 was incompatible with Poland’s constitution.

The ruling, which cannot be appealed, could lead to a significant reduction in the number of abortions in the country. 

Videos on social media showed protesters interrupting Sunday Masses while holding signs supporting abortion.

“Profanity, violence, abusive inscriptions, and the disturbance of services and profanations that have been committed in recent days -- although they may help some people to defuse their emotions -- are not the right way to act in a democratic state,” the archbishop of Poznań said.

“I express my sadness that in many churches today believers have been prevented from praying and that the right to profess their faith has been forcibly taken away.”

Gądecki’s own cathedral was among the churches targeted by protesters.

The archbishop emphasized that it was not the Church that decides whether laws comply with Poland’s constitution.

“For her part, the Church cannot cease to defend life, nor can she fail to proclaim that every human being must be protected from conception until natural death. On this point, the Church, as Pope Francis often says, cannot compromise, because it would be guilty of the culture of rejection that is so widespread today, always affecting the most needy and vulnerable,” he said.

The constitutional court was asked to examine the law last year by a group of 119 MPs belonging to the ruling Law and Justice Party (PiS), as well two smaller parties. 

Polish president Andrzej Duda, who is associated with PiS, welcomed the court ruling Friday.

“I have said it many times and I have never concealed it, that abortion for so-called eugenic reasons should not be allowed in Poland. I believed and believe that every child has a right to life,” he said in an interview with Dziennik Gazeta Prawna Oct. 23.

Abortion will continue to remain legal in cases of rape or incest and risk to the mother’s life.

Gądecki said: “I am asking everyone to express their views in a socially acceptable way, respecting the dignity of every human being. We need a conversation, not confrontational attitudes or feverish exchanges of opinions on social networks.”

He continued: “Once again, I encourage everyone to a dialogue on how to protect the right to life and women’s rights. I am asking journalists and politicians not to escalate tensions, in a sense of responsibility for social peace.”

“I am asking all the faithful for prayers for unborn children, for parents expecting children, and for the conversion of those who use violence.”

Benedict XVI distances himself from embattled Catholic community

CNA Staff, Oct 25, 2020 / 02:30 pm (CNA).- Benedict XVI has distanced himself from a Catholic community with which he had maintained close ties for decades. 

The German magazine “Herder Korrespondenz” reported Oct. 25 that the Pope Emeritus had taken the step regarding the Catholic Integrated Community.

Referring to the group by its German initials, IG, Benedict told the publication: “Obviously I was not informed about some things in the inner life of the IG, or even deceived, which I regret.” 

He had given the group ecclesiastical recognition during his time as archbishop of Munich and Freising, from 1977 to 1982.

CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language news partner, reported that Benedict also said: “At first I did not realize that in the attempt to shape the things of daily life integrally from faith, terrible distortions of faith were also possible.”

"I deeply regret that this gave the impression that all activities of the community had been approved by the archbishop.”

The Catholic Integrated Community, founded in 1948, was intended to be, according to its own description, “a place for an enlightened and unabridged Christianity.” 

The community achieved ecclesiastic recognition in 1978 by the archbishops of Paderborn and Munich -- Johannes Degenhardt and Joseph Ratzinger respectively -- and in 1985 it was established as a public association of the Christian faithful under Church law. 

As CNA Deutsch previously reported, the archdiocese of Munich and Freising published an interim report in November 2019 in which ex-members of the group described interventions in their private life. These included the choice of a place of residence and the number of children in a family, as well as the exertion of psychological pressure on relatives.

A spokesperson for Munich and Freising archdiocese informed the group that the decision to investigate the community in greater depth was taken after IG had obtained the archbishop’s confirmation of a chairperson for its executive committee. This step, which is required of public church associations and is scheduled every six years, took place in November 2010.

In addition, the archdiocese had been in contact with former members who had made accusations against the group, which is also known as the KIG.

A spokesperson said at the time: “These talks are currently being continued and their results so far have been included in the interim report of the visitation. At two reconciliation meetings in 2016 and 2018, initiated by former members and the archdiocese, none of the active KIG members took part, despite being invited to do so.”

Also in November 2019, a former member welcomed the investigation, telling CNA Deutsch that it was “a stroke of good fortune and a blessing for the Church and for the last members of the IG itself, whom one can only feel sorry for.”

Regarding the potential consequences of a possible refusal on the part of the group to contribute to clarifying the situation, the archdiocese said that the IG, as a public church association, was still called upon to cooperate with the visitators. 

“Should it continue to evade this in the future, we will take appropriate steps that could extend to dissolution,” the spokesperson said.

On the IG’s website -- which appears to have gone offline -- the community had described the accusations in the interim report as “completely groundless.”

According to Herder Korrespondenz, a member of the group said that the community had decided to completely cease its “activity as a church association and has since done so.” Research by the Herder Korrespondenz shows, however, that the group apparently plans to continue its work “in a new legal form.”

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