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Polish Mayor Bans Religious Symbols

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Above: Garden facade of the Wilanów Palace, Warsaw, Poland.

In a throwback to its Communist past, Warsaw recently became the first city in Poland to officially ban the display of religious symbols in government buildings and offices. An internal regulation signed by Mayor Rafał Trzaskowski on May 15 and applicable to all government employees, prohibits the hanging of crosses on state walls, the displaying of religious symbols on individual staff desks, and the offering of religious prayer at official events. Religious symbols for personal use worn by people working in the office is permitted.

The purported objective of Mayor Trzaskowski’s new guidelines is to combat discrimination and to ensure that council offices remain a “religiously neutral” space. According to Warsaw City Hall spokeswoman, Monika Beuth, “the office should be a secular place.” Trzaskowski, who was re-elected for a second term as mayor last month and is a member of Prime Minister Donald Tusk’s centrist Civic Platform (PO) party, went further. “Everyone has the right to their faith (or lack thereof),” he posted on X. He insisted that nobody was trying to fight against any religion in Warsaw and that the capital would always respect its tradition. Nevertheless, he wrote, “The Republic of Poland is a secular state, neutral in matters of religion and beliefs,” and “Warsaw is the capital of this country. Period.”

Look closely and you’ll notice that Trzaskowski’s words and sentiment are not so different from those of Lenin, who wrote in 1905 that “complete separation of Church and State is what the socialist proletariat demands of the modern state and the modern church.” “Religion must be declared a private affair … so far as the state is concerned,” Lenin argued. “Everyone must be absolutely free to profess any religion he pleases, or no religion whatever … Discrimination among citizens on account of their religious convictions is wholly intolerable.” 

How can it be that in Poland, where the half-century yoke of Communism was thrown off a mere three decades ago, Marxist elements have wormed their way back into public office and are again working to despoil the country of its Catholic heritage under the guise of “freedom of religion?” 

The Polish Church suffered deeply throughout the 20th century. During World War II, millions of Polish Catholics perished at Auschwitz and Dachau, the latter of which was the Gestapo’s concentration camp of choice for Catholic clergy. Approximately 20 percent of the Polish clergy was killed during the war. No sooner had Germany been defeated, but Eastern Europe was carved up and Poland’s borders redrawn at the Yalta summit. Depressed by the inevitability of the new Polish state becoming a mere pawn of the Soviet Union, senior diplomat and subsequent author of the containment doctrine, George Kennan recorded the following in his personal notes:

I wished that instead of mumbling words of official optimism we had the judgment and the good taste to bow our head in silence before the tragedy of a people who had been our allies, whom we have helped to save from our enemies, and whom we cannot save from our friends.

Days later began the tragic Warsaw uprising, in which Red Army forces deliberately halted their advance outside Warsaw and callously watched while the German Army massacred the Polish Resistance Home Army. Within two years, fraudulent elections were held, the Communist Party naturally won an incredible 80 percent of the vote, and the textbook pattern of persecuting the Church began.

The post-Yalta set constructed for Poland by the Allies alongside Stalin and “his gallant Red Army,” as Roosevelt called them in his 1945 address to Congress, was grim and gray, particularly in rebuilt Warsaw; those trapped in the Communists’ make-believe world were equally humorless and colorless.

Onto this bleak stage on June 2, 1979 – 45 years ago this week – walked Pope John Paul II, elected only the year before and the first Pope to set foot in a communist country. eCAfter having lived in Kraków for 40 yearsas student, priest, auxiliary bishop, archbishop, and then cardinal, the newly elected Pope was determined to return home and restore to the Polish people the 1000-year-old Catholic history and culture that had been unconscionably denied them. 

The nine-day pilgrimage, which drew crowds totaling about six million, was punctuated by visits to the three icons that best evoke the link between Poland’s national identity and its Catholic roots: the relics of St. Adalbert of Prague; the shrine of the icon of the Black Madonna in Częstochowa; and the relics of St. Stanisław, the 10th century Bishop of Kraków who was martyred at the hands of a corrupt king.

Perhaps the most momentous occasion was John Paul’s arrival in Warsaw on the Vigil of Pentecost, where 3 million of his compatriots turned out to greet him. At Mass in Victory Square (which was attended by 1 million Poles live and tens of millions more via radio and television), John Paul preached that “the exclusion of Christ from the history of man is an act against man.” George Weigel in his definitive biography describes the response from the enormous congregation:

Throughout the Pope’s sermon, the crowd responded rhythmically: ‘We want God, we want God; we want God in the family, we want God in the schools, we want God in books… Several hours after he had arrived, a crucial truth had been clarified by a million Poles’ response to John Paul’s evangelism. Poland was not a communist country; Poland was a Catholic nation saddled with a communist state.

As John Paul saw it, Poland is not religiously neutral or secular or whatever Brusselsspeak, Leninist terminology the Warsaw City Council recently dredged up. It is Catholic, and ever faithful. John Paul explained that Poland’s baptism over a millennia before had decisively inserted “the hierarchical order of the Church …into the history of the nation.” It was only when elements within European society attempted to erase God from man’s horizon, as John Paul lamented on the 50th anniversary of the outbreak of World War II, that the world was plunged into a moral abyss and totalitarian regimes which sought to become substitute religions.

Despite the normie version of history that “we won the Cold War,” this demonic drive to undermine Christian civilization and eliminate Christ from the memory of mankind was never extinguished. Communism is the ultimate shapeshifter. It dissimulates, adapts, regroups, and redeploys. Meanwhile its goal – the rejection of God, the subjugation of Christendom, and the enslavement of humanity – is indefatigable. 

Hence in 2019 Archbishop Marek Jędraszewski of Kraków warned on the commemoration of the Warsaw Uprising of a neo-Marxist plague that wants to take over our souls, hearts and minds. He shrewdly observed that “on the lips of those who proclaim tolerance to all and sundry, there is violence, humiliation, mockery of the holiest signs.” He’s correct. Indeed, let’s be honest: in a country where approximately 85 percent of the population identify as Catholic, Warsaw’s prohibition on religious symbols is hardly about suppressing hijabs and buddha statues; it’s a cynical ploy to cancel the Crucifix.

Yet John Paul insisted that “Christ cannot be kept out of the history of man in any part of the globe,” a statement with which, four and a half decades ago at least, the Polish people resoundingly agreed. So, with the Bolsheviks up to their usual tricks again, Poland may need to relitigate this point and assert its rights once more as a people of God, not creatures of the state.

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