Chairmen of the Polish Episcopal Conference and superiors of all seven Churches gathered in the Polish Ecumenical Council signed the common ‘Appeal for respecting Sunday in Poland’ on 20 January 2015 in Warsaw. This is a significant achievement of the Polish ecumenism because the supreme Christian churches in Poland expressed their unanimous opinion on the issue extremely important for Christ’s followers, which is fulfilling the third commandment of the Decalogue
Representatives of all Churches consent to the fact that in our everyday life Sunday loses its exceptional character. It becomes the same day as other days of the week. ‘Work beyond its amount deprives it of its sacral character. It is becoming more and more frequent that the Christians are forced to resign from their participation in divine services on Sundays. However, after work for many days, everyone has a right to rest, and also – as a Christian man – to celebrate Lord’s day according to their faith’ – we read in the ecumenical appeal.
Authors of the text appeal to all Christians in Poland to discover anew the values of Sunday as an unusual day of celebration by a community and a family in the spirit of faith. ‘As pastors of Churches in Poland, we support all social initiatives whose purpose is to maintain the solemn dimension of Sunday, bringing back its solemn character and care about forms of Sunday rest in harmony with Christian spirit. We also want to emphasize that we respect a different way of understanding the holy day’ – say superiors of Christian Churches in Poland.
Addressees of the document are employees, employers and state authorities. Churches appeal to them not to undertake any work on Sunday or engage others to it, if it is not necessary and also to prepare legal solutions which will provide workers with rest and possibility to celebrate Sunday.
The appeal is recommended to popularize it in all Christian churches and to read it in parish churches, regardless of religion.
Respecting divine order
- Every man, regardless of his religion or faith, needs rest. This common perspective is older than Christianity - said archbishop Stanisław Gądecki during a press conference in Lutheran Centre in Warsaw. The chairperson of the Polish Episcopal Conference expressed his grief that the contemporary times with its neo-liberalism brings confusion into the Divine order, disturbing it completely. – Instead of the man who has a right to rest, money and economy are placed on the first place – said the chairperson of the Polish Episcopal Conference. In his opinion, economic requirements of the continuously growing competition and progress do not allow the man to devote time, which he has got after work, to take some rest and celebrate Sunday. – An employee is demanded to be in a more haste and to resign from his rights not only on working days but also on Sunday and become subordinated to economy completely – said archbishop Gądecki. It causes a situation when a man becomes a servant of a country, instead of being its purpose. – It is injustice which destroys a family, and, consequently, a society – the metropolitan of Poznań emphasized.
The Roman-Catholic hierarch was being accompanied by the Orthodox archbishop Jeremiasz, the chairperson of the Polish Ecumenical Council, who shared the opinion that depraving the man of Sunday off work will always lead to various social problems. Władyka Jeremiasz emphasized that Sunday should be a day of creative work of a man but in a sense that on this day a man gets to know God and concentrates on what is the most important.
Among signatories there were superiors of the Church: a priest Mateusz Wichary (Baptist Church), bishop Jerzy Samiec (Evangelical-Lutheran Church), Fr. Superintendent Andrzej Malicki (Evangelical-Methodist Church), bishop Marek Izdebski (Evangelical-Reformed Church), bishop Wiktor Wysoczański (Polish-Catholic Church), bishop Maria Ludwik Jabłoński (Mariavites’ Church), the metropolitan Sawa (autocephalous Orthodox Church) and bishop Stanisław Gądecki (the chairperson of the Polish Episcopal Conference).
During this Week of Prayers for Christians’ Unity, an event of much more significance for Polish ecumenism was mentioned which was signing a declaration of mutual acknowledgment of baptism by seven Churches of the Polish Ecumenical Council and the Roman-Catholic Church, on 23 January 2000 in the Lutheran church of the Holy Trinity. Behind the scenes the Polish Catholic priest – Fr. Henryk Dąbrowski quoted the opinion of a prominent ecumenist – bishop Władysław Miziołek, who expressed great joy that in the Jubilee Year Christian churches were able to get matured for his decision, by listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit.
On the occasion of the 75th anniversary of signing the declaration about the mutual acknowledgment of baptism, the ecumenical Association ‘Effatha’, functioning under the management of tireless Danuta Baszkowska, organized a solemn jubilee divine service during this Week of Prayers for Christians’ Unity in the Roman-Catholic church of Baby Jesus at Lindley Street in Warsaw. It is worth emphasizing that this event from the year 2000 inspires the Association ‘Effatha’ to organize cyclical Divine Services for Christians’ unity on the 23rd day of every month.
Whereas, two years ago Churches in Poland signed and announced an ecological appeal for protection of creation. Moreover, postulates submitted by prominent Polish ecumenists, among the others, Fr. Prof. Stanisław Celestyn Napiórkowski OFMConv, were fulfilled, so that Christian Churches in Poland would try to take the common attitude in important social issues. Now it would be turn for a letter concerning bioethical issues, although here elaborating the common attitude by all Churches would be much more difficult than in the case of ecology or celebrating of Sunday – noncontroversial issues.
It is also worth emphasizing that the mentioned declaration about the mutual acknowledgment of baptism is a phenomenon on the world scale. But it is not the only one ecumenical precedence in Poland.
During the times of the primate Stefan Wyszyński and with his permission, the homily after the Gospel in Roman-Catholic churches could be proclaimed by a representative of a different Christian religion. It is a unique practice in the universal Church. In relation to it, the Vatican congregation of Faith Teaching interrogated the successor of cardinal Wyszyński, the primate Józef Glemp, noting that this kind of practice is unacceptable. Cardinal Glemp argued that this custom was formed at the times of Primate of the Millennium and it would be difficult for the Catholic Church in Poland to withdraw from it. Vatican acknowledged this argumentation and agreed officially that a non-Catholic priest can preach during the Holy Mass.
It was probably only in Poland that such a case happened, that an Orthodox bishop appointed a Catholic as a director of an Orthodox choir and it took place in Kielce. Anyway, in that Orthodox parish the Catholics are definitely the majority of the choir.