Opinion: Why so many Poles are breaking with the Catholic Church

Washington Post

October 31, 2020

By Magdalena Moskalewicz

I saw a young woman screaming in a priest’s face today and something in me changed. The priest must have just gotten outside of his church to tell people to disperse, and she was standing there among a group of other young protesters, mainly women. They were holding simple signs and yelling loudly at him, a large man in his 50s, his posture hidden by a long black cassock. I have never screamed at a priest myself, but I found the image impressive, oddly compelling.

The church’s handling of its sexual abuse scandals has alienated many. Over the past few years, the appalling breadth of pedophilia among priests has become vividly apparent. Millions of Poles watched the recent documentaries by Tomasz and Marek Sekielski, which showed how the church and the state covered up cases of repeated abuse.

Law and Justice, meanwhile, has tried to use religious feeling to its own ends. It has relied heavily on anti-Muslim fearmongering and has recently started mobilizing the same sort of social hatred against the LGBTQ community — with comprehensive help from the Polish church, which eagerly preaches against “the rainbow plague.”

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