Polish maverick MP launches anti-clerical party

October 3, 2010

polandA flamboyant millionaire lawmaker could have an instant impact on Polish politics with a new, anti-clerical party that would legalise abortion on demand, provide free condoms and curb the Catholic Church’s clout.

Janusz Palikot told the founding congress of his Modern Poland (NP) movement late on Saturday that he would quit Prime Minister Donald Tusk’s ruling centre-right Civic Platform (PO) and also resign his parliamentary seat on December 6.

(Photo: A statue of the Virgin Mary in Kobylin-Borzymy, June 27, 2010/Kacper Pempel)

“The Modern Poland movement demands the removal of religious instruction from schools, liquidation of the clergy (pension) fund… and state ceremonies at which we do not have to view the fat bellies of bishops,” Palikot told 4,000 cheering supporters.

Poland remains one of the most devout countries in Europe and its churches are packed on Sundays, but a growing number of Poles, especially among younger urban voters, resent priests’ attempts to shape social policy or to tell them how to vote.

Although Palikot is known for stunts, the group could have an immediate real impact on Poland’s electoral math.

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Will the Church in Poland accept as subordinate a role as the French Church was? Will Pope Benedict react as Pius X did in the 1900’s, with repression of religious thought and expression? A lot depends whether young Poles number among themselves enough unafraid of anathema to make Poland a more secular state; the Church has not hesitated in the past to condemn to Hell members who espoused reduction of its extra-religious political power.

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