If you knew Ireland say 40 years ago you will have an idea of what much of Poland is like today; the stifling dominance of the Catholic Church, an arrogant and out of touch hierarchy that lectures elected politicians in what the people want, village priests who no-one dares to disagree with, a disempowered laity.that is expected to sit quietly in the pew and cough up when the collection plate goes round.
There is a further similiarity with Ireland which is that victims of clerical sexual abuse are finally finding the courage to come forward. For years they remained silent for fear of the consequences, or were not believed. There have been a number of convictions.
In Ireland the hierarchy tried to hush it up and suffered the consequence of a collapse in its moral authority. In Poland the Church has a more aggressive approach. It blames the victims or rather it blames feminism for destroying the moral underpinnings of society for the moral collapse that leads to children being brought up without a moral compass throwing themselves at the poor priests. Victim blaming has surely never been as shameless as this.
The new bogeyman (or should that be bogeywoman) of the Church is the gender ideology or as they put it Gender. What they mean is gender studies which might seem to any normal person to be a wholly legitimate study of the way in which gender roles are socially and culturally determined, how they change across time. vary between countries and cultures and so on. No, merely suggesting that the role of a Polish woman as housewife and mother (the so-called Matka Polka) is culturally and historically determined and not handed down from Mount Sinai is alleged to undermine Polish society. The next step from Gender Studies is sexualised children climbing into the beds of priests to seduce them.
I find it hard to accept that they believe any of this but am all the more shocked at the ruthlessness with which the Church is defending its power and privilege. Priests facing serious criminal charges are left in their parishes to denounce their accusers from the pulpit while convicted priests feel free to ignore court orders forbidding then from having contact with children. The criminal justice system seems unwilling or unable to treat these offences as seriously as they deserve.
The Church will surely pay a price for this arrogance in the long term just as it has in other countries. That is probably little consolation for the victims, many of whom face social ostracism for speaking the truth. What Jesus would have made of it, the man in whose name the Church claims to act, can be guessed from what he said.
“Suffer the little children to come unto me and forbid them not for of such is the Kingdom of God.”