MORE bad news for the Vatican â€¦ Poland, once one of Europe’s staunchest bastions of Catholicism, seems to be falling out of love with the faith.
The latest manifestation of growing secularism in the country occurred earlier this week when the leader of a new ultra-liberal party – Janusz Palikot of the Palikot’s Movement – demanded the removal of a wooden crucifix from the Polish parliament.
According to this report, the former vodka tycoon, whose party became Poland’s third largest political force following last Sunday’s election, wants the symbol removed as part of his drive to reduce the clout of the Roman Catholic Church. He said:
We respect the religious character of the cross. That is why it should not be pulled into political disputes and should not hang in the parliament.
Palikot’s party has scandalised conservative Poles with its support for abortion, gay rights and legalisation of marijuana. Its 40 newly-elected lawmakers include Poland’s first transsexual MP and its first openly gay MP.
The cross in question has hung above the entrance in the main chamber since 1997, when it was placed there one night by two conservative politicians.
A defender of the cross – Jaroslaw Kaczynski, whose party came second in last weekend’s election – described it as a symbol of Polish history and Christian-based culture.
There is no reason to be ashamed that we’re Catholics. Every country has its tradition and those who want to destroy it are destroying our nation.
If his demand is rejected, Palikot said he would take the matter to the constitutional tribunal and, ultimately, the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.
The church is still revered by many Poles for its role in the overthrow of communism two decades ago with the backing of the “Polish pope”, John Paul II. But a growing number of young Poles have balked at its influence in politics and everyday life.