A new document released by the Polish Episcopal Conference, emphasizing the Church’s teaching on marriage and the family, gives a very clear and straightforward remainder to Catholic politicians that if they violate basic moral directives on life or family rights issues in the public sphere, they risk excommunication.
The document titled, "To Serve the Truth about Marriage and Family", which was drafted by the Conference’s Council for Family Issues, affirms the need for politicians to defend human life, and emphasizes the Church’s teaching that supporting abortion entails automatic excommunication and that it is a sacrilege for pro-abortion Catholic politicians to receive Communion.
"It is absolutely not true that a politician, or a government member, has to, or can, act against his conscience. (…) When it comes to God’s law, everybody is equal, politicians included," the bishops wrote.
The document expresses the Church’s teaching on family life and the responsibilities of society toward the family, strongly condemning such evils as abortion, in vitro fertilization, embryonic experimentation, as well as divorce and promiscuity.
"As John Paul II was saying just before he died, we are witnessing very strong, organized attacks on marriage and family, which could also serve to destroy the Christian spirit of Europe," said Father Andrzej Rebacz, head of the Episcopate Council for Family Affairs and the National Chaplain for Families, in a Polskie Radio report.
"These attacks include promotion of sex education at schools. We have to remember who was the first to introduce the idea of sex education. It was communist ideologue Gyorgy Lukacs in Hungary, who thought promiscuity was the best method to fight the institution of marriage, in order to fight Christianity."
The part of the Polish Bishops’ document which focuses on the duties of Catholic politicians has drawn both praise from pro-life and pro-family commentators, and condemnation from those who believe religious moral values have no place in public life in Poland.
Wojciech Cejrowski, writer, journalist and Catholic commentator observed, "It should be obvious to every Catholic. If you are pro-abortion and keep it to yourself, you are guilty of a mortal sin, and until you Confess, you cannot go to Communion. However, if you publicly support abortion, then you excommunicate yourself. You don’t need a bishop to excommunicate you, you have done it yourself, you have left the Church by the public act of disobedience."
Janusz Onyszkiewicz, a member of the Democratic Party, disagrees with the bishops and believes such issues should be separated from politics. He stated, "I don’t want to discuss the Church teaching, I think that obviously the Church should expect everybody who belongs to the Church that he should follow a certain moral code. But it is different to follow it in private life and to work on the legal system of the country," he told Polskie Radio.
Polish member of the European Parliament Konrad Szymanski endorsed the bishops’ document and said that politicians must be consistent in both their public and private lives, and if they declare themselves to be Catholic, they should practice what they preach.
"I’ve read the letter with great satisfaction because bishops reminded us the very simple truths that the obligation of conscience is much more important than any other obligation, including political obligations," Szymanski observed.
An English commentary by Joanna Najfeld on the Polish Bishops’ document is available from Polskie Radio