Polish president Andrzej Duda visited Pope Francis in the Vatican on Friday, in a meeting between two men seen by many in Poland as embodying very different visions for the future of the Catholic Church.
Mr Duda, a conservative regarded by his supporters as a guardian of traditional Catholic values, drew international criticism for a re-election campaign this summer in which he warned that “LGBT ideology” was more “destructive to man” than the Soviet-imposed communism endured by his parents.
Mr Duda’s remarks echoed those made last year by Marek Jędraszewski, the archbishop of the southern city of Krakow, who warned of a coming “rainbow plague” that he compared to Nazism and Bolshevism. The archbishop has previously claimed that by 2050 European whites would be “living on reservations”, and that “abortion is even more evil than paedophilia”.
Thirty years after the fall of communism, the Catholic Church retains a powerful role in Polish public life. But observers say that a tacit ideological alliance between Poland’s ruling conservative-nationalist Law and Justice party and hardline clerics like Archbishop Jędraszewski is eroding the standing of an institution already damaged by a succession of corruption and abuse scandals. Young, moderate Polish Catholics see in Pope Francis’s more inclusive brand of Catholicism an alternative to that espoused by much of the country’s political and clerical establishment.
You can read my report for the Financial Times here.