Andrzej Duda, the 43-year-old Polish President-Elect and a practicing Catholic, recently made a pilgrimage to the National Shrine at Czestowocha to pray for divine guidance as he prepares to lead his country.
At an outdoor Mass near the shrine, a gust of wind blew the Host from the priest’s hand as he was blessing it. Duda stood up from his seat in the front row, approached the Host on his knees, picked it up, and reverently returned it to the priest.
Catholics believe in transubstantiation—that is, Catholics believe that when a priest consecrates the bread and the wine during a Eucharistic celebration, the elements transform into the real body and blood of Christ and, therefore, are worthy of the highest respect.
Many Catholics across Poland and beyond are praising Duda’s actions as a sign of deep piety and loyalty to the Catholic Church and its teachings.
Duda belongs to the Law and Justice Party, abbreviated to PiS in Polish media. Often characterized as a “national conservative” party, PiS emphasizes patriotism and traditional values, including a Catholic worldview.
On issues that matter to Catholic voters for faith-based reasons across the world, Duda and his party firmly stand with the Church’s doctrine. For instance, Duda enthusiastically supports more restrictions and regulations which would reduce access to abortion, even though it is already illegal in Poland, except in certain extreme circumstances.
In 2012, Duda publicly endorsed a law which proposed jailing doctors who performed abortions. Polish bishops were among the first to support his views.
More controversially, the Law and Justice Party has also taken a strong stand against legalizing gay marriage, earning the ire of many more socially liberal groups throughout Europe.
In the European Parliament, PiS frequently works with the United Kingdom’s Conservative Party in an anti-federalist coalition called European Reformists and Conservatives. As representatives from Duda’s party made their views on gay marriage clear, the Tories came under fire from the British press for working with a “homophobic” party.
Prior to running for president, Duda served as a member of the European Parliament, where he earned a reputation for being a Eurosceptic.
His victory in the 2015 elections came as a slight surprise, defeating the establishment-backed, media-favored incumbent Bronislaw Komorowski in the second round of elections. Although Komorowski has widely been considered a center-right politician, Duda’s victory signals a significant rightward shift in Polish politics, especially as he captured much of the youth vote.
Duda is also known for being a staunch supporter of the United States-Poland alliance, and has signaled his willingness to partner with the U.S. to counter what is seen as aggression from Putin’s Russia.