Karolina Pawłowska, director of the Ordo Iuris International Law Center in Warsaw, said she was confident that the trial had a sound basis in Polish law.
“The image that is the subject of this case -- which depicts the Mother of God and Baby Jesus with the halos replaced with colors that are commonly associated with LGBT movements -- I think it’s one of the cases that fulfills all premises of profanation, which is defined in the Polish criminal code in Article 196,” she told CNA on Jan. 18.
Article 196 of the country’s penal code says that “Whoever offends the religious feelings of other persons by publicly insulting an object of religious worship, or a place designated for public religious ceremonies, is liable to pay a fine, have his or her liberty limited, or be deprived of his or her liberty for a period of up to two years.”
Pawłowska said: “It is clear, especially when you take into consideration the Polish cultural circle, which is very much focused on and built upon Catholic ethics and values which are very important to Polish people.”
“So from the side of people who are Catholics, who are defending Christian values, defending religious freedom, it should be obvious that such provocations should not take place in public debate, because it is not an element of public debate and should not be accepted as an element of public debate but should be considered as an offense to many, many people.”
The three activists say that they attached the posters to walls around St. Dominic’s Church in Płock in response to a display inside the church which listed “LGBT” and “gender” -- the Polish term for gender ideology -- as sins.
But according to the Associated Press, they deny allegations that they put stickers featuring the image on garbage bins and mobile toilets.
Pawłowska said that Polish Catholics were concerned not only by the image itself but also by the way that activists have used it.
“It is also important to say that we are talking not only about the image, which was offensive and provocative of course, but also about the way it was promoted. It was very widespread on social media,” she said.
“It was also placed on the walls of the Sanctuary of St. Faustina and at the convent of the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy in Warsaw. So in places that are very important to Catholics, places that are the object of cult [religious practice]. It was also very offensive to people that believe in God, believe in Jesus.”
“This is why there should be no doubt that this particular act of ‘artistic expression,’ as the authors would like to describe it, is something that should not take place.”
Elżbieta Podleśna, a psychotherapist and activist, told the court on Jan. 13 that she regarded the display in St. Dominic’s Church as “homophobic” and believed it could encourage the stigmatization of “people of non-heteronormative sexual orientation and gender identity.”
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
At Catholic News Agency, our team is committed to reporting the truth with courage, integrity, and fidelity to our faith. We provide news about the Church and the world, as seen through the teachings of the Catholic Church. When you subscribe to the CNA UPDATE, we'll send you a daily email with links to the news you need and, occasionally, breaking news.
As part of this free service you may receive occasional offers from us at EWTN News and EWTN. We won't rent or sell your information, and you can unsubscribe at any time.
She was arrested in May 2019 at her home in Warsaw and taken to Płock for questioning. A court later determined that her detention was unjustified and awarded her damages of around $2,000.
Amnesty International, the human rights organization founded by the British Catholic lawyer Peter Benenson, has urged Poland’s prosecutor general to drop the charges against the three women.
Pawłowska said that Amnesty’s stance lacked merit in Polish law.
“It mostly consists of political postulates, but not arguments that have grounds in existing legal provisions in Poland,” she said.
“The Polish constitution and international law defend the right to religious freedom and defend people from examples of such offenses like that. This is why the stance of Amnesty International not only has no grounds in the Polish legal system but also in international human rights provisions.”
The Catholic Church in Poland is not currently commenting on the court case, which comes as the Church appears to be losing ground in Polish society.