The Synodal Path, repairing the damage inflicted by the Second World War – there is no shortage of real and potential areas of conflict between the Churches of Poland and Germany, as evidenced by the last speech of the patron of Polish bishops.
The time of the 1960s is long gone, when the bishops of the banks of the Rhine and the Vistula undertook a work of reconciliation, multiplying symbolic gestures, in order to heal the wounds of what was then very recent past.
For several years, the gap has been inexorably widening between the Churches of Germany and Poland, to the point of reaching a breaking point: in question, the German Synodal Path and its progressive aims.
The Polish prelates are indeed up against the work of undermining Catholic doctrine and morals undertaken by their Rhineland colleagues, towards whom mistrust is more than ever the rule, even if it means bringing up the ghosts that were thought to be lost in the mists of the past.
The latest episode, September 3, 2022: Msgr. Stanislaw Gadecki, Metropolitan Archbishop of Poznan and President of the Polish Bishops' Conference (KEP), published a statement following the government report entitled “the losses suffered by Poland as a result of German aggression and occupation between 1939 and 1945.”
The Polish prelate justifies the initiative of the government demanding reparations from the Germans for damages suffered during the war: “Mercy and forgiveness – especially in political life – must however be accompanied by prudence and justice.…There can be no contradiction between forgiveness and justice. For forgiveness neither removes nor diminishes the need to repair the evil which falls within the order of justice.”
And Archbishop Gadecki insisted: “If the task of the Church is to remind the faithful of the value of conversion, forgiveness and reconciliation, it is up to the State to decide on the concrete modalities of the restoration of justice.”
It is a statement making a harsh criticism of the German episcopate which calls, conversely, to reset all the counters to zero between the two countries.
Conversely, the aging German dioceses depend more than ever on the Polish faithful who attend their parishes.
There is no doubt that the next plenary assembly of the German Bishops' Conference (DBK), which is due to meet in Fulda in the autumn, will consider the thorny question of relations with the Polish prelates.