A conservative overlap

In a recent interview, Metropolitan of Krakow Archbishop Marek Jędraszewski raised many fundamental issues. For some time now, the Polish media has been using imprecise concepts that in turn hinder the correct assessment of the political situation in the county. First, PiS (the ruling Law and Justice party) tends to be identified with the Catholic Church because of certain overlapping positions that these two institutions take. This is the case, for example, with the flagship PiS program of 500+ which the Church strongly supports. Presenting PiS and the Church as allies is very beneficial for the Law and Justice deputies. However, there is also a deep discord between the Church and the PiS about which Archbishop Jędraszewski speaks openly, for example:

The project prohibiting the killing of unborn children due to their illness (eugenic abortion) has been met with enormous public support, and over 800,000 people signed a petition to support it. However, it has not passed yet and work in the Sejm committees does not progress as fast as we would expect (p. 22).

The Archbishop also raised a crucial point about the separation between the state and the church. In every country the line separating the state and the church is porous. Therefore, the two spheres always interact, albeit to a different extent. Due to particular historical trajectories, the Catholic Church in Poland enjoys a privileged political position. After the 1989 democratic transition, the legitimation of the new party system was based on the moral authority of the Catholic Church. Thus, to no small extent, the Church was drawn into politics. Interestingly, we also see a similar situation today where opposition politicians expect that the Episcopate will take a firm stance against the institutional changes introduced by PiS. Bishop Jędraszewski responds to such expectations in the following way:

Surprisingly, when the Church speaks about matters of social life, such as abortion, she [the Church] is accused of interfering in politics, but when she is called to speak on changes in the judicial system, that is no longer politics (p. 23).

We are dealing, therefore, with a very fluid and dynamic situation, where the two largest political parties are trying to use the Catholic Church for their own political purposes. In this complicated game, the bishops have to distance themselves from some issues, not forgetting, however, that the Church also has its own political preferences (e.g., eugenic abortion ban) which need to be voiced.

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