Polish Archbishop Speaks Out as Protesters Disrupt Masses After Abortion Ruling

Archbishop Gądecki’s own cathedral was among the churches targeted by protesters.

Archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki, the president of the Polish Bishops Conference, in Vatican City during the Synod of Bishops on October 12, 2015.
Archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki, the president of the Polish Bishops Conference, in Vatican City during the Synod of Bishops on October 12, 2015. (photo: Andreas Dueren / CNA/EWTN News)

KRAKOW, Poland — The president of Poland’s bishops’ conference has urged critics of a landmark abortion ruling to express their opposition “in a socially acceptable way” after protesters disrupted Sunday Masses.

Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki issued the appeal Oct. 25, after the country’s constitutional court ruled Thursday that a law permitting abortion for fetal abnormalities was unconstitutional.

In a highly anticipated ruling, the Constitutional Tribunal in Warsaw declared that the law introduced in 1993 was incompatible with Poland’s constitution.

The ruling, which cannot be appealed, could lead to a significant reduction in the number of abortions in the country. 

Videos on social media showed protesters interrupting Sunday Masses while holding signs supporting abortion.

“Profanity, violence, abusive inscriptions, and the disturbance of services and profanations that have been committed in recent days -- although they may help some people to defuse their emotions -- are not the right way to act in a democratic state,” the archbishop of Poznań said.

“I express my sadness that in many churches today believers have been prevented from praying and that the right to profess their faith has been forcibly taken away.”

Archbishop Gądecki’s own cathedral was among the churches targeted by protesters.

The archbishop emphasized that it was not the Church that decides whether laws comply with Poland’s constitution.

“For her part, the Church cannot cease to defend life, nor can she fail to proclaim that every human being must be protected from conception until natural death. On this point, the Church, as Pope Francis often says, cannot compromise, because it would be guilty of the culture of rejection that is so widespread today, always affecting the most needy and vulnerable,” he said.

The constitutional court was asked to examine the law last year by a group of 119 MPs belonging to the ruling Law and Justice Party (PiS), as well two smaller parties. 

Polish president Andrzej Duda, who is associated with PiS, welcomed the court ruling Friday.

“I have said it many times and I have never concealed it, that abortion for so-called eugenic reasons should not be allowed in Poland. I believed and believe that every child has a right to life,” he said in an interview with Dziennik Gazeta Prawna Oct. 23.

Abortion will continue to remain legal in cases of rape or incest and risk to the mother’s life.

Archbishop Gądecki said: “I am asking everyone to express their views in a socially acceptable way, respecting the dignity of every human being. We need a conversation, not confrontational attitudes or feverish exchanges of opinions on social networks.”

He continued: “Once again, I encourage everyone to a dialogue on how to protect the right to life and women’s rights. I am asking journalists and politicians not to escalate tensions, in a sense of responsibility for social peace.”

“I am asking all the faithful for prayers for unborn children, for parents expecting children, and for the conversion of those who use violence.”

Mother holds baby's feet in her hands.

Polish President Duda Welcomes Landmark Abortion Ruling

The court found that abortion in the case of a high probability of severe and irreversible impairment of the fetus, or an incurable disease that threatens its life, was inconsistent with constitutional provisions protecting human life.