eurel     Données sociologiques et juridiques sur la religion en Europe et au-delà


  • September 2021 : Poland : an increasing number of people in favour of legal abortion and separation of state and church

The opinions of Poles on socio-political issues are becoming increasingly liberal, according to the latest report published by CBOS (Public Opinion Research Centre) 91/2021 Electorates of Political Parties on Important Socio-Political Issues. The biggest changes concern the relationship between the state and the Catholic Church, the possibility of legal abortion, and same-sex marriages.

Over the past two years, the biggest changes have occurred in opinions on worldview issues : the role of the Church in public life, the legal regulation of abortion and the rights of gays and lesbians. The percentage of respondents supporting the view that the concordate between Poland and the Holy See is unnecessary, and that the state should not favour any religion or church, increased from 40% to 49%. At the same time, the percentage of people who believe that the state should cooperate with the Catholic Church has decreased from 40% to 34%. Support for legal abortion is now higher than in previous surveys conducted since 1999 (41%, an increase of 12 points since 2019). Today, 29% of respondents are in favour of a legal ban on abortion (10 points less than two years ago). More than a third of respondents now support the legal permission of same-sex partnerships (36%, an increase of 6 points since 2019 and 10 points since 2015). Half of those surveyed are against it (50%, a decrease of 5 points since 2019 and of 9 points since 2015).

The commentary to the results states that the opinions of Poles on the appropriate form of the socio-economic order and the role of the state are relatively stable, although changes indicating a more frequent liberal approach than before are visible in some issues.

  • September 2021 : The Catholic Church presents data on the abuse of minors

The Rev. Adam Żak, coordinator of Children and Young People Protection for the Polish Episcopal Conference, has presented a report on child abuse.
The most important information can be found below :
- From 1 July 2018 to 31 December 2020, a total of 368 reports of child sexual abuse were submitted to dioceses and male religious orders.
- Nearly half of the victims mentioned in these reports were younger than 15 (47%), and the others were nearly all between 15 and 18 years old (47.3%). In both age groups, there was an equal number of girls and boys (50% each). 21 reports (5.7%) contained no information about age : 8 of these concerned the abuse of girls, 13 of boys.
- The number of boys and girls who were victimised is very noticeably equal. This shift in the trend teaches us not to generalise or reduce the issue to that of homosexuality.
- Thirty-eight of the reports were considered not credible and rejected, 186 are under investigation, and 144 were confirmed or found credible at the preliminary stage or by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Among those who were reportedly victims of sexual abuse :

• 104 (28%) reports concerned altar servers,
• 71 (19%) male and female school children preparing to receive sacraments,
• 61 (17%) members of a parish, community or movement,
• 25 (7%) members of a church choir,
• 24 (7%) family members or acquaintances of a priest or friar,
• 17 (5%) readers,
• 10 (3%) pilgrimage participants,
• 9 (2%) holiday camp participants,
• 3 (1%) female servers.

In 173 reports (47%), the relation of the victim to the Church was none of the above or unknown, and 47 (13%) reports contained no information about the status of the victim (The above categories are not mutually exclusive, meaning that a single victim could belong to several categories).

The reports concerned cases of child sexual abuse which occurred from 1958 to 2020. 81% of them concerned acts committed from 1958 to 2017, and 18% were related to acts committed in the last three years (2018-2020). Four reports lacked information about the time of the act. As regards duration, in 39% of the cases, the abuse lasted for less than a year, 37% – from one year to two years, 14% – from three to five years, 5% – from six to nine years, and in 4% – for more than 10 years.

The reports submitted from 2018 to the end of 2020 concern 292 priests and friars. More than one accusation was brought against 20% of the accused (from among these 58 persons, at least 32 diocesan priests and 10 friars had already been accused before 1 July 2018, i.e. had already been under investigation).

The reports were submitted to dioceses and religious orders with varying frequencies. However, in the analysed period there was not a single month when a Church jurisdiction in Poland did not receive any report.

“The Church, though not without resistance, is changing and repenting. I would like to thank those who took in the victims and are helping them along the way. We are also thankful to the law enforcement”, says Primate of Poland, Archbishop Wojciech Polak.

As demonstrated in today’s report, from mid-2018 to the end of 2020, 300 sexual abuse reports were submitted to dioceses, and 68 to orders. Nearly half of the victims mentioned in these reports were under 15 years old (47%), and half of them were between 15 and 18 (47.3%).

The report notes that “the situation of the accused differed at the time of data collection by the Polish Episcopal Conference Delegate Office”. Most of them were prohibited from ministry pending investigation (46%), prohibited from any ministry-related contact with children and young people (36%), or were ordered to remain in a specified location (37%). In other cases, various procedures were applied, including a temporary ban on performing certain ministry functions, banning from visiting a certain location, restriction of ministerial responsibilities or canon law penalties. Sixteen percent of the accused clergymen are currently retired, and (11% of the accused diocesan priests and 6% of the friars have not been banned from ministry.

  • June 2021 : Trial concerning the Lux Veritatis Foundation

The criminal trial of the Rev. Rydzyk and two other administrators of the Lux Veritatis Foundation (i.e. the Rev. Jan Król and Lidia Kochanowicz-Mańk, responsible for the foundation’s finances), a Polish religious organization founded in 1996 by two Redemptorists, has been in progress before the District Court of Warsaw-Wola for the past several weeks. The public life transparency organisation Watchdog has accused the aforementioned defendants of failing to disclose information concerning spending public funds.

On 7 June and 3 November 2016, Civic Network Watchdog Poland requested that the Lux Veritatis Foundation disclose certain public information. The requests pertained to projects financed using public funds, in particular to subsidies received from 2008 to 2016 and how they were spent (only in 2016).

Having received no response within the legally specified time limit, Civic Network Watchdog Poland submitted a formal complaint to the Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw on 19 December 2016, requesting that not only the information be disclosed, but also that the court acknowledges that the failure to disclose it was a flagrant violation of law.

On 25 January 2017, Watchdog Poland decided to submit a notification of suspected criminal offence, believing that the failure to disclose the information was deliberate.
On 26 May 2017, the Lux Veritatis Foundation partially responded to the request by disclosing a list of the public subsidies it had received. As regards its expenditures, however, the foundation stated,
“Disclosing in-depth data about all expenditures related to projects for the purpose of which the Foundation made use of public funding, including the disclosure of the amount spent, dates, parties to the transactions and the purpose of the expenses, for the requested period, i.e. from 1 January 2016 onwards, is outside the scope of the statutory requirements related to public information disclosure.”

On 18 January 2018, Watchdog Poland submitted again a notification of suspected criminal offence.

On 4 June 2020, the prosecution refused to pursue the case.

On 19 June 2020, Civic Network Watchdog Poland brought a subsidiary indictment (case III K 555/20).

Minister of Justice and Prosecutor General Zbigniew Ziobro is evidently involved in the case, defending Tadeusz Rydzyk, head of the Lux Veritatis Foundation.

Since 9 April 2021, Radio Maryja and TV Trwam, two media which belong to the foundation, have attacked Watchdog Poland numerous times in their broadcasts. A campaign targeting Watchdog Poland is also underway, criticising its foreign funds and accusing the organisation of acting with the intent of destroying Catholicism in Poland.

In a Radio Maryja broadcast, Rydzyk stated, “since the beginning, our reputation has been tarnished by lies, slander, etc. because that is what you do if you want to destroy someone. That is what Hitler did, what Stalin did, what they did in Spain, in Mexico. That is what they did with Jerzy Popiełuszko – his reputation was tarnished, he was lynched in the media, and then murdered.”

  • January 2021 : Facts

On September 25, 2019, Niebylec Commune Council adopted a resolution number XI/93/2019 on the adoption of the declaration - on stopping the ideology “LGBT”. The resolution was published in the Public Information Bulletin. The legal basis for the resolution is indicated in Article 18, paragraph 1 of the Act on Municipal Self-Government. The first paragraph of the resolution expressed that, “the municipal council adopts a position expressing its opposition to the promotion and affirmation of the ideology of the so-called LGBT movements”.

In order to justify the adoption of the resolution in question, its introduction refers to the ideological war and cultural revolution, which, according to the Niebylec Commune Council, require the defence of its self-government community and making it free from LGBT ideology.

The following part of the resolution expresses a declaration of actions aimed at the realization of the above-mentioned assumption, covering primarily the area of educational tasks of schools and other educational institutions, as well as protection of teachers and entrepreneurs from political correctness and homopropaganda. A position was also formulated about the loyalty of Niebylec Commune to national and state tradition, Christian values and centuries-old culture.

The supervisory authority, i.e. the Podkarpackie Province Governor, did not make a decision on the invalidity of the resolution due to its illegality, under the procedure provided for in Article 91, paragraph 1 of the Act on Municipal Self-Government.

The acronym LGBT used in the content of the resolution is an English acronym for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. It is commonly used as an umbrella term for non-heteronormative and non-identifiable persons with a dichotomous division between male and female sex, including intersexual, pansexual, asexual or insecure people of their sexuality or sexuality. LGBT people thus make up a very diverse and large social group - an estimated 5-8% of the population (this figure cannot be accurately determined due to the difficulty of conducting statistical studies on sensitive data on psycho-sexuality). The members of this group may, therefore, represent very diverse interests resulting from different views or social positions. However, regardless of these circumstances, LGBT people constitute a social minority that enjoys special protection under the law against discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Admissibility of Complaints

In the opinion of the Ombudsman, the contested resolution interferes with human and civil rights and freedoms, which the Ombudsman guards under the Polish Constitution. The need to protect these rights and freedoms thus updates the Ombudsman’s competence to lodge an administrative complaint against the resolution in question, pursuant to Article 8 § 1 of the Codes of Administrative Procedure.

The Regional Administrative Court in Rzeszow (September 8, 2020, case number II/SA/Rz 27/20) decided to reject the complaint.

The contested resolution undoubtedly does not constitute an act of local law. It does not have the basic features of a local law act, which is the establishment of rights and obligations of a general nature, universally binding and addressed to an unspecified number of people, in this case to the inhabitants of Niebylec commune.
In the Court’s opinion, the contested resolution cannot be considered to have been adopted in a public administration case. Undoubtedly, it is not a public task assigned by law to a local government body (here : the Niebylec Commune Council), and moreover, it does not contain an element of administrative authority. As emphasised in the case law, only acts or activities that contain an element of administrative authority are within the competence of administrative courts.

D 30 septembre 2021    AMichał Zawiślak

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