The Katowice Appeal Court has today upheld the verdict of the Katowice District Court which ruled in September ’09 that the Polish Catholic newspaper Gosc Niedzielny (Sunday Visitor) and its editor-in-chief Fr. Marek Gancarczyk were guilty of making offensive comments by saying abortion is the killing of an unborn child.
A further appeal is expected to go to Poland’s Supreme Court.
Fr. Gancarczyk had appealed the earlier decision in the case brought against him by Alicja Tysiac, a woman who had previously won a “wrongful birth” suit against the Polish government at the European Court for Human Rights because she was refused an abortion. Poland permits abortion only in cases of rape, serious handicap in the baby, or serious health risk to the mother.
Ms. Tysiac, who has an eye condition, had been denied an abortion because her doctors decided that the pregnancy would not seriously damage her health.
Following the European Court’s ruling, Fr. Gancarczyk published an editorial condemning the court’s decision, saying, “In consequence, Ms. Tysiac will receive 25,000 euro damages, plus the costs of proceedings, for not being able to kill her child. In other words, we are living in a world where a mother is granted an award for the fact that she very much wanted to kill her child, but was forbidden to do so.”
Katowice District Court ordered Fr. Gancarczyk to pay $11,000 and publish a court-dictated apology, which Fr. Gancarczyk has refused to do.
Pointing out that the District Court judge said she deemed offensive Fr. Gancarczyk’s statement that in seeking to get an abortion, the woman sought to ‘kill’ her child, the Appeal Court judge said in her decision that she believed the Catholic press should refrain from using decisive and forceful language.
“Christianity is a religion of love and this is what the language used by Catholic press should be like” the presiding judge stated.
An observer at the hearing told LifeSiteNews his opinion of the proceedings: “The court was biased from the start. When the closing statements were heard in court, the judge could not sit still and listen to both sides, as is usually the case and a rule of good manners. The judge kept interrupting the speech of the defense, making faces and comments, indicating, that the case was already lost for Gosc Niedzielny.”
Archbishop Damian Zimon of Katowice Archdiocese, upon hearing the verdict, commented in an email to LSN, “The atmosphere around the trial launched against Gosc Niedzielny indicates the activity of abortion circles, which want to change the law in Poland at all cost.
“No state law can undermine God’s commandment and the order of Jesus Christ,” he said. “Abortion is the first cause of death in Europe, according to the newest report on Abortion in Europe and Spain presented in Brussels by a Spanish Institute of Family Policy. Let me remind the words of blessed Mother Theresa of Calcutta: ‘the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion (…) if we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another?’
“Christ reminds us that ‘whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’”
Fr. Jozef Kloch, spokesman for Polish Bishops’ Conference, added his voice to that of Archbishop Zimon, saying, “Christianity is a religion of love, which loves human beings from the first moments of life. It is also a religion which tells the truth, no matter how painful it is.”
Gosc Niedzielny issued a statement following the verdict, saying, “We consider this ruling unjust and limiting freedom of speech.”
“The Appeal Court ruling,” said the magazine, “confirms a dangerous precedent, where it is the courts who freely interpret the ‘context’ and ‘general impression’ of articles and thus decide on the shape of opinion journalism in the delicate area of ethical and moral judgments. This constitutes a serious restriction not only of the freedom of speech, but also of the right of Catholics to participate in the public debate.”
The Catholic Association of Journalists in Poland issued a statement condemning the Appeal Court ruling and urging fellow Christian journalists not to be cowed into silence about abortion.
“We consider the verdict an attempt to gag Catholic media, also directed against freedom of speech in a wider sense,” the group’s statement said in part.
“We call on all journalists, who hold Christian values, not to be afraid to write the truth about abortion, about abortionists and about the supporters of the Holocaust of the 21st century. Because neither the appeal court in Katowice, nor the Strasbourg Tribunal, nor all the courts in the world have the right to forbid us from calling abortion a crime,” the statement concluded.
Justice Stanislaw Dabrowski, Head of the National Council of the Judiciary
ul. Rakowiecka 30
02-528 Warszawa, Poland
Phone: (22) 3-792-792
Fax: (22) 3-792-794
Polish pro-life leaders are requesting that letters also be copied to:
Archbishop Damian Zimon (Metropolitan of Katowice): firstname.lastname@example.org
Archbishop Józef Michalik (Head of the Polish Episcopate): email@example.com
The Katowice court which issued the verdict: firstname.lastname@example.org
Gosc Niedzielny newspaper: email@example.com
Janusz Kochanowski (Civil Rights Commissioner): firstname.lastname@example.org
See previous LSN coverage:
Polish Magazine Fined for Calling Abortion “Killing” becomes #1 Weekly
Former John-Paul II Secretary Condemns Ruling against Polish Priest over Abortion Statements
Polish Priest Fined for Comparing Abortion to Holocaust, Saying Abortion is “Killing”