Polish president Duda visits Marian shrine after narrow election win

GettyImages 1226594533 Andrzej Duda celebrates his presidential election victory in Pułtusk, Poland, July 12, 2020. | Getty Images.

Andrzej Duda visited Poland's national Marian shrine Monday following his narrow presidential election victory.

Duda attended evening prayer at the shrine of Our Lady of Częstochowa at Jasna Góra Monastery July 13 after he emerged as the victor in a run-off with Warsaw mayor Rafał Trzaskowski.

Duda, who is associated with the ruling Law and Justice Party (PiS), won a second term as president with 51.03% of the votes, with his challenger gaining 48.97% -- a difference of 422,630 votes in a country with a population of almost 38 million.

According to local media reports, Duda was present during the Call of Jasna Góra (Apel jasnogórski), a prayer addressed to Mary, Queen of Poland, that is recited at 9pm every evening at the shrine. 

Shrine custodian Fr. Waldemar Pastusiak is reported to have acknowledged Duda's presence, praying: "We thank you for his presence here at Jasna Góra. We thank you for his witness of faith. On the threshold of the second term, we are giving him into Your hands, Mary, and all the matters of our homeland, believing that You will always be present with him."

Częstochowa auxiliary bishop Andrzej Przybylski also spoke, local media noted, saying: "God bless our beloved homeland, Poland, all Poles. Bless the president of the most glorious Republic in this new stage of his national service."

"Listen, God, to the great desire of Your and our Mother, Queen of Poland of Częstochowa, that we, her Polish children, may live in harmony and unity, that we may have God in our hearts, for only He can enable us to truly love and reconcile, to wisely bond Poland together and to spiritually revive it."

Western media reports have portrayed the 48-year-old Duda as the favored candidate of the Catholic Church. On June 10, he signed a "Family Charter" opposing same-sex marriage and adoption, and committing himself to the "protection of children from LGBT ideology."

But in the run-up to the first round of the presidential election, the Polish bishops' conference sought to avoid being drawn into partisan debates.

In May, the bishops addressed a dispute about whether the election should go ahead despite the coronavirus pandemic. 

They called on lawmakers to resolve the issue while upholding the principles of Poland's constitution, emphasizing that they were not seeking to engage in "purely political disputes over the form or timing of election, let alone to advocate this or that solution."

The Polish bishops' conference had published no official response to the election result as of July 14.

Duda visited Jasna Góra shortly after his first presidential election victory in 2015. He also visited the shrine in March this year to take part in prayers to end the coronavirus pandemic.

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