The Church hierarchy has failed protesting families. One archbishop has accused them of having too great a sense of entitlement.
Parents along with their disabled children have been occupying a corridor in the Polish parliament for nearly 3 weeks in order to draw attention to the desperately inadequate support for such families provided by the Polish state. However, the Roman Catholic Church in Poland has not taken the side of the protesters. Archbishop Henryk Hoser – acting as a mouthpiece for government propaganda – claims the protest is political in character.
Hoser’s words leave no doubt. In this conflict the Catholic Church stands on the side of the government. In an interview on the RMF FM radio station the archbishop unleashed an attack on the protesters. His remarks had not the slightest trace of empathy for the plight of stay-at-home carers who are forced to live below the poverty line. He arrogantly advised the protesting parents to moderate their demands.
The archbishop also parroted the government’s narrative according to which the protest is “politically motivated” and the mothers involved in the occupation are behaving irresponsibly. He compared the current protest to the recent hunger strike by junior doctors in hospitals throughout Poland, which the authorities also claimed was in collusion with the opposition and aimed at “weakening the government and Poland”.
“I see many similarities here to the junior doctors’ protest. It was also conducted in inappropriate places” – said the archbishop. “This time we have disabled people in the corridors of parliament. That’s the first similarity you can’t avoid noticing. And the next one is that there is no desire for dialogue on the part of the protesters”.
The RMF FM host next asked the archbishop whether the voice of the Church wasn’t needed in this situation.
Hoser answered tersely that “the Church is not a party to the dispute”. That, of course, means the Church supports the government and not those in need.
After a moment’s reflection Hoser seemed to realise that perhaps he’d gone too far and so decided to make sure his listeners were fully aware of all the benevolence the disabled receive from his organisation.
“The Church runs a huge number of institutions whose role is to maintain the life and comfort of the disabled. In this sense the Church is indeed a party which plays a very positive role in this conflict. Of course no one mentions that. Just think how many Caritas charitable homes there are, and orders of nuns who provide care for the disabled.”
After this self-congratulatory recitation, Hoser went on to accuse the protesting carers, who often receive benefits of less than 500 zloty monthly (115 Euros) per dependent family member, of having too great a sense of entitlement. The protesters should “tone down their expectations”.
“Every decision needs to be based on an Act of Parliament, a legal instrument, and that takes time. And they want cash in hand immediately” – concluded the archbishop.
Protesting parents inside the Polish parliament discuss with the government’s spokesperson.
Solidarity demonstration outside the parliament in Warsaw.
Piotr Nowak is a Polish journalist, anticlerical activist and well-known initiator of happenings. He is a regular contributor to Strajk.eu and “Faktycznie” weekly magazine. Among his biggest achievements are the popularization of bold anti-Catholic and anti-nationalist leitmotifs, and exposing a leading Polish businessman’s dishonest attempt to gain a PhD.