Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki, president of Poland’s bishops’ conference, speaking to journalists at the Vatican in 2018 (Photo: Polish Bishops' Conference)
Thousands of protesters disrupted Sunday services across Poland on Oct. 25, against a court ruling that imposed a near-total ban on abortion.
Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki, president of Poland’s bishops’ conference, urged the protesters to express their opposition “in a socially acceptable way.”On Oct 22, the predominantly Catholic country’s constitutional court ruled that a law permitting abortion for fetal abnormalities was unconstitutional.Protesters entered the churches during the Masses and spraying slogans on walls in the first large-scale stir directly targeting churches.The demonstrators carried posters depicting a crucified pregnant woman.
“I express my sadness that in many churches today believers have been prevented from praying and that the right to profess their faith has been forcibly taken away.”
The protesters did not spare either Archbishop Gądecki’s own cathedral.
Three dozen protesters disrupted the Mass in the western city of Poznan and held a protest in front of the altar.
The court ruling that outlawed abortions due to fetal defects has resulted in country-wide demonstrations.
The constitutional court was asked to examine the law last year by 119 law-makers belonging to the ruling Law and Justice Party and two smaller parties.
Polish President Andrzej Duda, who is associated with the ruling Law and Justice Party, welcomed the court ruling on Oct 23.
“I have said it many times, and I have never concealed it, that abortion for so-called eugenic reasons should not be allowed in Poland. I believed and believe that every child has a right to life,” he said.
According to protesters, the court order has ended the few legal grounds left for abortion in Poland.
In the southern city of Katowice, 7,000-strong protestors, mostly women assembled in front of the cathedral, shouting “this is war” and “human law, not ecclesiastical law,” Reuters reported.
In Warsaw, demonstrators sprayed “abortion without borders” on one church, reported state news agency PAP.
The ruling, which cannot be challenged in the court, can significantly reduce abortions in Poland.
Church leaders denied influencing the judgment.
“The Church does not constitute the law in our homeland, and these are not the bishops who decide on the compliance or non-compliance of laws with the Polish Constitution,” Polish archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki said in a statement.
“However, the Church cannot stop defending life, nor can it abandon the proclamation that every human being must be protected from conception until natural death.”
The protests are held despite the ban on gatherings of more than five people imposed to prevent the spread of the pandemic Covid-19.
Activists said the protests would continue.