Via Integra

Fr Mark's progressive Anglo-Catholic take on European Christianity

  • This is my collection of material about the current state of the churches in Europe. I am interested in looking at how they are dealing with the pressing issues of our time: the issues of gay people and women in ministry/ leadership are particularly pressing at the moment, as is the area of declining church attendance.

    I would like to see how Europe's traditional religious institutions are coping with the new Europe currently being forged, in which public opinion and ethical attitudes are becoming inceasingly pan-European, and are evidently presenting a series of strong challenges for the churches.

Poland – gay issue

Posted by Fr Mark on August 7, 2009

polandPastor Szymon Niemic in Poland writes on his blog that in Poland, it is now possible for gay couples to receive a church blessing:

When couple months ago media in Poland released “hot news” about gay blessing ceremonies in Free Reformed Church of Poland, where I am a deacon, I wasn’t surprised of shaming comments from Roman Catholic Church and right wing parties. Conservatism in Poland is still very strong, and any progressive Christianity options are not warmly welcome. My congregation was attacked by officials from RCC and most of other “big” denominations in Poland. They told us, that we cannot name ourself “Christians” or “Protestants”, and there is no place for us in Poland. Why? Not because we allowed woman to be priests, nor because we comes from progressive theological way named “theology of freedom”. But because my congregation decided to allowed gay and lesbian couples to receive blessing of “Holy Union”. For most of traditional Christians, and even some gay people, our decision was to “early” or “un-biblical”. I understand this. In my opinion, every congregation should have right to decide with way they want go. But, what shocked me the most, I wasn’t expected so much hate and anger in media. Most of religious journalists asked me:

“How dare you blessing the same sex couples? This is against our religion, morality and tradition.”

I agree with this. Holy Union blessing is not coming from catholic or Polish traditions. But it exists in other traditions, other religions and other congregations. So I was answering all the time by the same sentences:

“This is our way. Let us go our way, as we let you go by yours. Our decisions not touching you or your congregation. It is not touching law of our country. So, why you are so afraid?”

Hopefully our message was delivered not only to “angry people”. After first article I received about 100 letters and phone calls form same sex couples in Poland, who was looking for help. Most of them was sent by people of great spiritual faith. Faith what was thrown away from churches in Poland. It is something, what really makes me angry in my country.

Stereotype what  is hurting us the most, is this one, what say:

“Homosexuals cannot be believers, because God hates them”

What a hypocrites! I am always asking:

How God, who we describe as Almighty Love, can hate His own children? Who we are to judge each other love? Who we are to judge love at all?

I am serving for my Warsaw’s congregation for two years. I don’t know how many homosexual people asked me for spiritual help or advise by this time. I don’t know how many times I repeat sentence:

“God loves you, because you are His child”

When I receive letter or phone call from same sex couple, people of faith, who are asking me if I can bless their relationship, because they want declare their love in front of God and people, how I can say NO? When I see love, passion, courage and care how I can discard this? This is something very deep inside my soul. I believe, that everyone who believe in God’s love should not be against love of two people. And with this faith I am serving Polish same sex couples with my worship, pray and blessing.

In fact, every time when I bless next couple, I feel like next family member comes to my heart. With this feeling my spiritual family growing and became bigger and bigger. And this is something wonderful

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