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Vatican Urges Polish Bishops to Beware of Nationalist ‘Factions’

Polish church admits clergy abused hundreds of children
AFP/FRANK PERRY
THOMAS D. WILLIAMS, PH.D.

The Vatican’s secretary of state told Poland’s bishops Wednesday to keep close to the pope to avoid being “exploited by some faction, whether political or nationalist.”

Cardinal Pietro Parolin praised the Polish Church’s traditional closeness to Rome, telling the bishops that following the pope’s lead will guarantee their future.

“Your indispensable task now is to uphold this heritage, preserving and strengthening it as a rich legacy, so Poland’s Christian identity will have not only a past and present, but also a future,” the cardinal said.

Pope Francis has been a vocal critic of the growing populist and nationalist movement in Europe. In January, the pontiff compared the emergence of populist and nationalist movements to the days of Nazi Germany, warning diplomats that populism is “is progressively weakening the multilateral system.”

The populist and Eurosceptic “Law and Justice” (PiS) party won Poland’s national elections in 2015, followed by victories in local elections around the country in 2018 in which the party took 254 seats in regional councils.

In January of this year, Italy’s populist deputy prime minister Matteo Salvini met with leaders of the Polish government with the aim of forming a “new European Spring” to oppose the “French-German axis” in Europe.

“I would like there to be a common alliance of those who want to save Europe,” Mr Salvini said during a visit to Warsaw.

In his meeting with Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, Interior Minister Joachim Brudziński, and head of the ruling PiS party Jarosław Kaczyński, Mr. Salvini sought to build a populist parliamentary alliance ahead of May’s EU Parliament elections, to counter the globalist agenda of Brussels, Berlin, and Paris.

In his speech to the bishops Wednesday, Cardinal Parolin lauded the Polish legacy of “communion with the Petrine see and faithfulness to the bishop of Rome,” which embodies the key Catholic principle of “unity in diversity.”

“Unity with the Pope also guarantees freedom in the face of worldly powers and particular interest groups,” Cardinal Parolin said.

“It assures openness to the universal Church, as well as full catholicity, guarding against the danger of closing in on oneself or being exploited by some faction, whether political or nationalist,” he said.

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