The Polish Episcopate has issued a statement clarifying its position on a controversy that has arisen after Archbishop Marek Jędraszewski called LGBT ideology a “rainbow coloured plague”.
Archbishop Jędraszewski in Kraków a few days ago responded to criticisms of the Church coming from LGBT activists and voiced his opposition to their demands and ideas. He compared these ideas to those of the communists.
“The red plague no longer stalks the earth. But this does not mean that we don’t have a new one which is trying to occupy our souls, hearts and minds …. a rainbow coloured plague.”
The words have led to protests from both LGBT activists and from some liberal-leaning members of Catholic congregations. There were even demonstrations outside the Archbishop’s residence in Kraków with banners titled “we are not a rainbow plague” and citations from scripture on tolerance.
Responding to the controversy Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki, who is the chairman of the Polish Episcopate, issued a statement on the Episcopate’s behalf. In it, he states that “respect for individuals cannot mean acceptance of an ideology which attempts a revolution in social customs and interpersonal relations.”
He also asked Parliamentarians to “oppose far-reaching plans by LGBT activists to change Polish law” and local governments “not to take decisions which under the cloak of opposing discrimination promoted an ideology which challenged traditional notions of gender.” This was a reference to the LGBT activists campaigning for same-sex marriage and adoption of children by same-sex couples, as well as the signing of LGBT charters by local authorities that included commitments to sex education.
The statement cites Pope Francis’s words that “this revolution in morals and customs often waves the flag of freedom, but in reality brings with it spiritual and material devastation to millions of human beings.”
The statement defends Archbishop Jędraszewski’s criticism of LGBT ideology on the grounds of freedom of speech. It also criticises employers who have taken action against employees who defend traditional views on the family. There has been an instance of an IKEA employee being dismissed for a social-media post citing the bible in objection to the company’s LGBT promotion and there have been two recent instances of actors being dismissed from playing in a film and TV series for their social media posts critical of LGBT activists.
The word “plague” is a strong one. Where it to be used against individuals for being members of the LGBT community it would be both aggressive and clearly not in line with Christian teaching.
However, LGBT activists clearly present a vision of society which the Catholic Church in Poland and elsewhere does not agree with. And it does have the right to make its case, even if, as on sensitive matters, it is best to choose one’s language carefully. It would also be wise for LGBT activists to be sensitive to the religious feelings of millions of Poles and avoid unnecessary provocations such as mocking religious symbols (something which has happened on some Pride marches).
Poland’s constitution clearly defines marriage as being between a man and a woman. It also gives parents exclusive rights over bringing up children in accordance with their values and beliefs. This is why it is hard to argue that defending a Catholic vision which is in line with the Polish constitution could in any way be interpreted as a hate campaign.
Freedom of speech means that controversial views will be aired. As long as they are not an incitement to hatred against individuals or social groups nor encouragement to commit violence they cannot and should not be restricted.