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The Dispatch: More from CWR
Synod of Bishops 2015
Abp. Gądecki, who is the President of the Polish Bishops Conference a member of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith since 2014, is known for his staunch and outspoken orthodoxy
Archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki of Poznan, Poland, president of the Polish bishops' conference, right, during the opening session of last year's extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family at the Vatican. (CNS photo/Marcin Mazur)

Synod-watchers may remember their surprise last October when the Synod on the Family produced a relatio that hinted at communion for Catholics in irregular unions and a new stance regarding homosexuality. As there had been a media blackout, the impression that these sections were the unanimous work of the Assembly was allowed to linger until Archbishop Stansław Gądecki of Poznań went to Vatican Radio to tell Poland the truth: the relatio was unacceptable to many bishops. In Gądecki’s opinion, it departed from the teachings of Saint John Paul II and contained within it elements of anti-marriage ideology.

This October, Archbishop Gądecki has again been a light in the media blackout by publishing news of the Synod on his blog. Until October 9, when Synod Fathers were reminded not to do this, Archbishop Gądecki made the statements of other participants public. It was thus that the Catholic Church worldwide discovered that José Cardinal Mastrojuan of Panama had suggested that the Catholic Church ought to adopt Mosaic divorce, asking “Could not Peter be as merciful as Moses?”

After months of pondering the theological innovations of German Cardinals, the Catholic media’s attention has once again been captured by the outspoken Polish bishop.

Stanisław Gądecki was born in 1949 in the small Polish town of Strzelno. He was ordained to the priesthood in Gniezno Cathedral by Stefan Cardinal Wyszyński in 1973. Father Gądecki studied Biblical Theology at the Biblicum in Rome and the Biblicum Franciscanum in Jerusalem before taking his doctoral degree at Rome’s Anglicanum in 1982. He taught in the seminary in Gniezno (31 miles east of Poznań), and was made Vice-Rector in 1986. In 1992 he was ordained a bishop, and in 2002 he was appointed Archbishop of Poznań by Saint John Paul II. He has been the President of the Polish Bishops Conference since 2014, and since 2014 he has been a member of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

In Poland Archbishop Gądecki is considered a staunch conservative, if loath to involve himself in national politics. His uncompromising devotion to orthodoxy is not necessarily shared by the young of his flock, however. “From what I’ve read in the newspapers, he’s not very nice,” said Izabella, 26, a native of Poznań. “He’s super-radical and conservative. A bit medieval. He mentioned that gender ideology is worse than Marxism. First of all, gender isn’t an ideology. Second, I don’t think he knows what Gender Studies is.”

Gender, or dżender, is an English loan word used in Polish Catholic circles to indicate contemporary theories about sex, sexuality and gender identity, anathema among Poles who prize traditional masculinity, femininity, children and the theology of Saint John Paul II. On October 7, Archbishop Gądecki discussed the pressures that feminism and gender ideology exert against the family.

In an address to one of the “small groups” at the Synod, Gądecki warned that feminism teaches women that dedicating themselves to marriage and the education of their children will thwart their ambitions, whereas gender ideology (“genderism”) seeks to destroy marriage and the family by abolishing the differences between men and women. He noted that gender ideology is taught to children without the consent of their parents. Children are sexualized, and they are more likely to get sexual information from each other than from their elders. He believes that all the local churches deal with the problem, and that parents, especially, have to protect their children: “One cannot sit on one’s hands and say it’s the school’s business. If the family wants to preserve its Christian identity, the parents must speak openly and honestly with the children.”

Shortly before the Synod deliberations began this month, Archbishop Gądecki assured the media that the Polish Bishops Conference would not, and could not, compromise on the truths of faith. In a recent and lengthy interview with EWTN, he said that discussions of homosexual relationships should have no place at the Synod of the Family, for the Synod deals with the family “according to the Catholic understanding” and the homosexual relationship “has nothing to do with Catholicism.” He observed also that gender theory and Marxism shared the same goal: “the pulverization of society so the human person remains alone and people can boldly and more skilfully manipulate humanity.”

“I like the fact that he recognizes gender theory as something that’s driving toward a comprehensive worldview,” writes Dr Artur Sebastian Rosman, a Polish American born in Warsaw. “It really is an all or nothing, with us or against us, worldview. It that way…it becomes a rival to Catholicism as an all-embracing way of framing our lives, what we value, how we live. The funny thing is that theology departments are discovering gender theory as the next big thing just as humanities departments are trying to jettison them. The factions created by politics of identity have made academic departments almost ungovernable.”

Archbishop Gadecki is still posting his notes from the Synod on his blog, only without the names of the speakers attached. It is a shame that these posts are mostly in Polish, for the Archbishop’s desire for clarity is shared not only by the Poles but by thousands of other Catholics frustrated by the media blackout.

About the Author
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Dorothy Cummings McLean 

Dorothy Cummings McLean is a Canadian writer living abroad. Her first novel with Ignatius Press is Ceremony of Innocence. She has been a regular contributor to The Catholic Register (Toronto). Her first book, Seraphic Singles: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Single Life, is a popular work of nonfiction.
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