Roman Giertych (Photo: WND)
WARSAW – Nearly 70 years after the invasion of Poland marked the beginning of a global cataclysm, the Central European nation once again finds itself confronting a foe it sees as a threat to Western civilization.
While the rest of Europe largely accommodates a rising tide of secularism, many Polish leaders are prepared to fight back with a bold, traditional social agenda they envision not only for their own country but for the continent and the world.
Poland’s vice premier and minister of education, Roman Giertych told the World Congress of Families here his multi-pronged plan – including a proposal issued last month to ban “homosexual propaganda” in schools – is “something I have to do.”
“The family is the hope for Poland, the hope for Europe, the hope for the entire world,” the 36-year-old leader told the global gathering of more than 3,300 from 75 nations. “… Without the family, there is no nation, there is no continent, there is no civilization, there is nothing.”
As WND reported, the fourth World Congress convened this weekend to address Europe’s “demographic winter” of plunging birthrates by promoting the “natural family” as the “springtime of Europe and the world.”
In April, members of the European Parliament quickly denounced Giertych’s “homosexual propaganda” proposal as “repulsive” and “hateful” and passed a resolution of condemnation 325-124, with 150 abstentions.
Warsaw’s Palace of Culture and Science, the venue of the World Congress of Families, bears reminders of Poland’s old order (Photo: WND)
It’s no wonder then that Polish pro-life activist Eva Kowalewska told the World Congress delegates, “Your presence here gives us strength.”
Janina Fetlinksa, a member of the Polish Senate and the Council of Europe, told WND in an interview the European Union doesn’t really understand Poland.
“When I hear we are intolerant, homophobic and so forth, I think, my God,” she said, pointing to her peoples’ long history of living among many nationalities. “The majority of Poles love life, they love family. I think the misunderstanding from this is that we are intolerant moralists. It is not true.”
While many Poles don’t practice the country’s traditional Catholic faith, it’s still deeply rooted in the hearts of the people, Fetlinska said.
“Our pope, John Paul II, moved our spirits toward God,” she explained. “I think this is the reason the value of life is very important to us. It’s in our politics, too, because politics are from people.”
‘The truth is on our side’
Giertych, whose father and grandfather were prominent Polish politicians, says Poland is threatened by “various ideologies … that have nothing to do with the well-being of children, that promote attitudes which are not true to life.”
“This world of permissiveness, of certain attitudes which promote homosexuality, which promote pornography, this world is coming to an end, because our civilization is built on virtues, on Roman law … on the Decalogue,” said Giertych, according to an English interpretation. “This civilization has great strength for rebirth. The rebirth will take place in the family, not only in Europe, but in the entire world.”
Giertych’s appointments to his posts in May 2006 were met one day later with a protest in front of the Ministry of Education by about 100 activists. Just a couple of weeks later, more than 140,000 people signed a petition to remove him from office.
At the Congress, Giertych offered encouragement to fellow Poles and to foreigners attacked for their views.
“Please don’t let people shut you down,” he said. “Please don’t be convinced that others who are promoting lies are telling the truth. The truth is on our side.”
Giertych said the world needs a breakthrough like the one that took place at the beginning of the 13th century in England with the signing of the Magna Carta. In March, at a meeting of ministers of education in Heidelberg, Germany, he proposed a “Great Charter of Rights of European Nations.”
The world will never be free from dangers threatening the family, he said, if there are no rights in place protecting life from the very beginning until natural death.
“Today we need a great charter for the rights of the family and nations that defines the right to life, that would define abortion as murder,” Giertych told the World Congress delegates. “Whether three months old or three months before birth, whether 60 or 90 years old, murder is always murder. It is always a crime.”
One of the fundamental truths that should be in that charter, he said, is that families are led by a man and a woman.
“Let’s never accept mommy and mommy or daddy and daddy,” he said. “There is only one truth.”
Giertych said the consequences of “alternative” family structures must be frankly communicated, and several World Congress presenters did just that, including Patrick Fagan of the Heritage Foundation, who presented research data in numerous categories showing “the safest place for children is in the natural family.”
Another proposal, Giertych said is to restructure a tax and pension system that essentially takes from those who have many children and gives to those who have none.
“This is contrary to equality of law,” Giertych said. “A fair system allows the family to regain some of the money they spend on their children, because they are investing in the next generation. This is not symbolic but realistic, lowering the cost of upbringing children.”
A further initiative is to prohibit circulation of pornography.
“Pornography is evil; it is an evil that touches the family and threatens the development of young people,” the deputy prime minister said. “Its circulation should be treated as a crime, because it ruins what is most virtuous in a human being.”
To many European activists such as Robert Biedron, president of the Polish homosexual-rights group Campaign Against Homophobia, such proposals make Poland a pariah. The ban on “homosexual propaganda” is a “dangerous” measure that made him feel “embarrassed” when he heard about it.
“Poland is like an island drifting away from the rest of Europe,” Biedron said at the time.
Tomasz Bilicki, who battles the spread of pornography as deputy director of the Center of Family Service in Lodz, Poland, told WND through an interpreter his nation does, indeed, often feel alone.
“It’s very often, on the international field, Poland has only one country it can cooperate with – the Vatican,” he said. “Sometimes it’s Ireland or Spain, but only sometimes. “We are alone, we are the last bastion.”
Bilicki gave a presentation in a panel session on pornography that included American scholar Robert Knight of the Media Research Center in Alexandria, Va.
Knight affirmed in an interview with WND that Poland is “nearly alone” as the European Union promotes abortion, homosexuality and pornography “as hard as it can as part of an overall deconstruction of the family.”
“You can’t blame them for feeling as if they’re the lone soldier on the battlefield,” he said. “They are inspiring people around the world with their stance.”
Knight said Poland’s stand against the European Union has been a topic among defenders of the family across the U.S.
“We have taken our courage in what the Poles are doing,” he said. “This is a nation that has suffered enormously over many decades. First from Nazism and then communism. They’re a tough bunch of people who appear to have the strength to resist especially the homosexual agenda.
Robert Knight (Photo: WND)
“If you’ve been victim of communists and Nazis, you’re not going to run in fright from the forces from San Francisco.”
Knight said it was wise for Poland to host the World Congress, because “they know you need allies.”
“Even the bravest soldier can’t stand alone forever. And they don’t need to,” he said. “I think the lesson for Americans is that we need more soldiers out on the battlefield.”
Knight said observing Poland reminds him of a principle he learned from watching former Republican Sen. Jesse Helms of North Carolina “stand up and be attacked by the left.”
“His courage gave others the excuse to move toward his position even if they didn’t vocalize it publicly,” Knight said. “We need that kind of leadership. … It’s far easier to isolate someone and make them out to be a crank or far-right if nobody else is talking the way they are.”
Poland, he said, isn’t “waiting to see what others are doing, they are taking leadership.”
“Others will come to them because they are the rallying point,” said Knight. “So our hats have to go off to the Poles.”
Wesley Smith, a bioethics expert and senior fellow with Seattle’s Discovery Institute, told WND after contributing to an international panel on euthanasia that he, too, has been impressed by the Poles.
“It strikes me that they are willing to stand against the cultural tide, and that takes courage,” Smith said. “And if that continues, eventually the tide sometimes can be shifted.”
The Polish Senate’s Fetlinksa concurred.
“We are idealists,” she said, “but only idealists can change the world.”
WND News Editor Art Moore is in Warsaw, Poland, to report on the World Congress of Families.
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