Stop politicking, nuncio tells Polish clergy

Saying the church "needs priests, not politicians" and "evangelists, not economists", Holy See nuncio to Poland Archbishop Jozef Kowalczyk has called on the clergy to stop preaching politicised homilies and not to turn liturgies into "public rallies".

"I wish liturgical services in Poland would not turn into public rallies and just dispose people to be more human and more Catholic," Archbishop Kowalczyk said, according to a Catholic News Service report.

"We need priests, not politicians - and if politicians, then politicians of God's word," said the archbishop, whose sermon was carried by Poland's Catholic information agency, KAI.

"We also need evangelists, not economists - we have enough of those already in Poland to do the job. Let's work on their spirit and conscience so they'll become true professionals in serving all society. This is the mission of a priest."

Preaching in Czuma, near Lublin, the nuncio said: "The times are over when people went to priests on every occasion, to arrange plumbing or telephones for their villages, and elected priests as council chairmen hoping they'd organize such things. This epoch has ended."

The same day, after multiple reports of bishops using their homilies on the feast of Corpus Christi to make political statements, the nuncio told a Polish television station that clergy should be more circumspect.

"Corpus Christi is the greatest eucharistic festival, not only in Poland, so some part of our speeches should be eucharistic," Archbishop Kowalczyk said. "We should show what the Eucharist is in a person's life, so as to make him more human, regardless of whether he'll be in government or working in a garden, steelworks or mine."

Poland's Gazeta Wyborcza daily said on 13 June members from the governing Law and Justice Party had complained about a Corpus Christi homily by the bishops' conference president, Archbishop Jozef Michalik of Przemysl, in which he accused the party of "failing the moral test" by not securing a tightened abortion law. In the homily, the archbishop also praised Marek Jurek, the former speaker of Poland's Sejm, or lower house of parliament, for resigning over the issue.

In a homily the same day, Bishop Stanislaw Stefanek of Lomza condemned security measures at the June summit of the Group of Eight industrialized nations in Germany and told Catholics that current strikes and protests by doctors and teachers in Poland were a "classic terrorist method."

However, Bishop Jan Tyrawa of Bydgoszcz said during Mass that he supported the strikes, adding that current government actions were "divorced from reality and threaten anarchy."

"This is a worse time than under communism," Bishop Tyrawa said.

The dean of Poznan University's theology faculty, Father Pawel Bortkiewicz, defended the right of Catholic bishops to "speak out on public issues." He told KAI that he believed Corpus Christi processions were a good occasion for "raising political and social questions."

However, Dominican Father Maciej Zieba, a theologian, said church leaders should remember they were "preaching now in a free Poland, with freedom of speech and political democracy" and should be guided by "slightly different rules than in totalitarian countries."

Stop politicizing homilies, Vatican nuncio tells Catholic Polish clergy (Catholic Online, 18/6/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Archbishop Jozef Kowalczyk (Wikipedia - Polish edition)
Archbishop Jozef Michalik (Wikipedia - Polish edition)
Archbishop Jozef Michalik (Catholic Hierarchy)

19 Jun 2007