Will prosecutors in Poland go after Pope Francis for “offending religious feelings”?

Postcard from Poland #8

The Catholic-fundamentalist craziness in Poland has just reached new heights! The District Prosecutor’s Office Warszawa-Śródmiecie Północ is investigating whether Pope Francis’ words “God loves you as you are,” displayed on a rainbow flag, offend religious sensibilities.

In Poland, offending religious feelings is punishable by a blasphemy law. “Whoever offends the religious feelings of other persons by publicly insulting an object of religious worship or a place designated for public religious ceremonies is liable to pay a fine, have his or her liberty limited, or be deprived of his or her liberty for a period of up to two years,” according to Article 196 of the Penal Code.

The Polish prosecution has decided to look into whether Pope Francis’ words on the rainbow flag offend Poles’ religious sensibilities. It refers to the quote “God loves you just the way you are,” which was seen on a rainbow flag during one of last year’s demonstrations for equal rights for LGBT people on the streets of Warsaw and other major cities. The strange context of this investigation stems from the fact that the phrase in question is said to have been spoken by Pope Francis during a conversation with Juan Carlos Cruz, a victim who was molested as a child in Chile by a pedophile priest. Cruz is also a gay man. With the quoted words, the Pope was to reassure him that his sexual orientation is irrelevant to God.

And how does the prosecution see the situation? According to the explanation for launching the investigation signed by prosecutor Wojciech Janiak (an assessor since March 2019 according to information on the National Prosecutor’s Office website):

the proceedings, it was established that the suspects’ behavior resulted in an offense against religious feelings [name of the person blurred – ed. note]. Based on religious studies expertise, it is necessary to determine whether the suspects’ object in the form of a flag with a pattern of horizontal different-colored stripes, commonly identified as the so-called colors of the rainbow, which is recognized as a symbol of LGBT communities, and the inscription “God loves you as you are,” which was applied nearby, is of an insulting nature.

The Warsaw Regional Prosecutor’s Office (under which the district falls) has yet to respond to the question of why investigators believe the Pope’s words may offend religious feelings, which many Polish journalists have formally submitted to this institution.

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