11 August 2021, The Tablet

Poland defends Catholic priest who attacked gay clergy

by Jonathan Luxmoore , in Warsaw/Oxford

Poland defends Catholic priest who attacked gay clergy

Library of the University of the Pontifical John Paul II in Krakow, Poland.
BE&W agencja fotograficzna Sp. z o.o. / Alamy

Poland’s government has accused neighbouring Germany of “endangering religious liberty” after a prominent Polish priest was sentenced for incitement after describing gay clergy in an article as “cancerous parasites”. 
“This arbitrary assessment of a scientific contribution as spreading hatred raises real doubts about freedom of expression,” said Marcin Romanowski, deputy justice minister. “We are witnessing anti-freedom tendencies in the German legal system – a threat to fundamental liberties and European standards.”
The minister was reacting to the Cologne District Court’s imposition of a 4800-euro fine or 120-day prison term on Mgr Dariusz Oko, a theology professor at Krakow’s John Paul II Pontifical University, for alleging in the German Catholic magazine Theologisches that the Church was “paralysed by an internal homosexual mafia” against acting effectively against clerical sex abuse.
A case against the 61-year-old Pole, whose previous book, Lavender Mafia, was also attacked as homophobic, was brought by a Munich-based priest, Fr Wolfgang Rothe, who told the German press agency, DPA, there should be “no place in the Catholic Church for spreaders of hatred and agitation”.
In a statement, Poland’s Ordo Iuris association of Catholic lawyers said Mgr Oko’s “well-grounded article” had been published in a scientific journal, quoting Popes Francis and Benedict XVI. It added it would back a legal appeal by the priest and his 90-year-old German coauthor, Fr Johannes Stohr, as well as a public petition to Chancellor Angela Merkel in defence of academic freedom.       
Meanwhile, the former German prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Gerhard Mueller, also praised the article as an “academic report about serious crimes by high-ranking clergy”, adding that he was “ashamed as a German” that Mgr Oko had been penalised “for setting out facts”. 
He said: “Either these judges haven't read the article, or they aren't in a proper state to evaluate it,” Cardinal Mueller told Poland’s Do Rzeczy daily on Monday. “Condemning these crimes with strong language, far from inciting society to hatred, is an act of courage which deserves respect by all decent people.”     

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