The head of Poland’s bishops has given a lengthy and hard-hitting interview in which he upholds the Church’s teaching on marriage and the family, voices his opposition to Church decentralization, and calls gender ideology worse than Communism.

In the interview broadcast on EWTN Germany, Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki said that the Church “can’t sing with 100 different voices as postmodernity would like it to.”

“If the Church were to teach 10 or 100 doctrines,” he added, “she would break apart into 100 churches, but the Church is one, catholic and apostolic.”

The archbishop, who is one of three Polish bishops attending the Oct. 4-25 Ordinary Synod, was responding to comments made earlier this year by Cardinal Reinhard Marx, president of the German bishops’ conference. 

The cardinal said Germany can’t wait for the current Synod on the Family to make this or that decision, and that the German church is not “a subsidiary of Rome.” Archbishop Gądecki was also responding to a general push by some European bishops ahead of the synod to devolve teaching authority away from Rome. 

In the EWTN interview, the archbishop also quashed talk of a spirit of consensus ahead of the synod, saying he saw “no way to create a compromise” between truth and untruth. “What compromise can there already be between truth and untruth?” he asked.   

As the synod got underway yesterday, some of those running the meeting were at pains to point out the general spirit of consensus that is present. Archbishop Bruno Forte, the synod’s special secretary who was criticized last year for forcing through an agenda many believed was at odds with Church teaching, insisted “there’s no division, conflict, it’s not what I feel.”* He instead criticized last year’s media interpretation of the synod as “often bipolar.”

Elsewhere in the interview, the president of the Polish bishops’ conference said gender ideology has similarities with Communism in that it has “no regard for the human person” as it doesn’t recognize human dignity as Christianity does, and is even worse than Marxism because it is “a pure ideology that is actually bent on destroying marital and familial relationships.”

“By teaching gender theory, the good of having marriage and family is thrown into doubt, the institutions of marriage and family are destroyed by being labeled as ‘oppressive’, as diminishing humanity rather than growing it,” he warned. He said the ideology may take different forms, but the aim is the same: “the pulverization of society, so that man stays alone and is more easily manipulated.”

The archbishop also highlighted the problem of discussing mercy, but with less emphasis on justice, sin and the notion of the truth. “That is a hermeneutic mistake [an erroneous interpretation],” he said. “Justice and mercy are inseparable from one another.” A person can experience mercy “by converting, by returning to the House of the Father after staring into the abyss.”

But he stressed that “no matter what situation a marriage might find itself in, be it regular or irregular, they must be aware that divine mercy accompanies them, immutably, for it is only in such a setting that they will not revert to guilt but strive to extricate themselves from sin and return to grace.”

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Meanwhile, a lay Catholic forum in Poland has issued an appeal to the synod fathers to reaffirm Church teaching at the meeting.

Called “Between the Synods”, representing many “intellectual and formative circles” actively involved in the Church’s role in the modern world, the forum stated they “are deeply convinced that the modern world needs Christian teaching on the subject of marriage and the family since there is a serious danger of diluting the notion of sacramental marriage and the family built on it.”

They added: “We consider it extremely important to remind of supernatural and legal-natural purpose and sense of the family together with its rights and principles.”

They also expressed hope that the upcoming Synod would “seek to deepen the theology of marriage and family” and that problems of education “deserve a special attention.”

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* This is not to say there isn't a spirit of communion. Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, president of the USCCB, told the Register yesterday: "We are in communion with one another and so there really is a certain level of trust that I enter into, trust also that we do need to speak frankly and I hope every synod father would intend to do that."