It’s terrible how Christians are discriminated against in Poland. You might remember last time I finished my column with the information about how Polish Scouts are now given choice if they want to say their oath with or without invoking God. Apparently, this is not the end of that story. See, the Pastoral Council of the Polish Scouting Association (yes, it is a thing, scouts have a Pastoral Council!) was really outraged and issued an angry statement. According to them “sanctioning Scouts being able to not swear to serve God undermines identity of a Polish scout, as well as a century of Scouting as created by Robert Baden-Powell”. They hope “the path of Scouting ideals will remain faithful to God forever and will remain a space for religious development”.
Well, I hope the opposite, because I agree with them when they point out that this duality of oaths, where one Scouts can swear to serve Poland, and others can swear to serve God and Poland makes the whole educational process incoherent. I propose to solve this incoherency by introducing clear separation: Scouting would be a place to do scouting, and the church would be a place to do religion. That would be the simplest solution that would at the same time upkeep the real ideas of Robert Baden-Powell: that Scouting is open to everyone. Seems I am not the only one, as at the moment of writing the Pastoral Council’s statement published on their Facebook page gained 855 reactions, of which 720 laughing faces, 67 angry faces, and only 37 likes. To compare it, my answer in which I propose the separation of church and scouting gathered 437 reactions so far: 388 likes, 48 hearts, and one sad face). While this is far from any official poll, I think those numbers are pretty telling.
And this is not the end of news that should make the church uncomfortable. Cardinal Dziwisz, who used to be a personal secretary to Pope John Paul II, during celebrations of the 25th anniversary of the Pope’s visit to Zakopane (yes, this is a thing, he was in Zakopane for less than 4 days in 1997 and the celebration of this anniversary have been going for weeks already), scolded his flock from the pulpit, lamenting how Poles dare to raise their hand on the memory of the Polish Saint and Pope: they dare to laugh at the cult of the Pope and remind how he was protecting paedophiles. And Cardinal Dziwisz remembers well how the Polish highlanders were paying tributes to the Pope 25 years ago and asks them to defend his memory today. I am glad Dziwisz memory is getting better, perhaps he will be able to recall all those paedophile priests he was protecting and finally speak to those journalists that were asking him about it back when his memory was still very poor?
Meanwhile, the country is already tumbling down into lewdness. In one of the Warsaw cinemas, there was a festival of post-porn cinematography. Outside the venue, there was a group of strangely dressed individuals performing BDSM practices such as kneeling on the cobbles with their hands stretched apart for prolonged periods of time or even self-harming. Ah no, wait, those were actually protesters, who were praying and self-harming themselves in hope that they will be able to beg God for forgiveness for the movie festival they don’t really understand what it is about, but it had the word “porn” in its name… Surely some official government monitoring would help here? I don’t know about cinemas, but the National Broadcasting Council is already considering monitoring of Polish movies and series on TV to check, if the model of the family is portrayed properly – if characters cultivate tradition or how they share work and household duties. I wonder if LGBT families, which are already present in some Polish TV programs, but are still officially not recognized by the state (Zbigniew Ziobro even sends prosecutors after one gay couple who, after being refused the right to marry in Poland tied their knot abroad and now fight to have it recognized in Poland under EU law), will fall under the scope of that monitoring or not?
Anyway, cardinal Dziwisz might be onto something. Poles seem to have no respect for anyone nowadays. In Pacanów for example a government minister Michał Cieślak got into a discussion with employees of the post office, who complained to him about raising prices. He told them it’s not so bad, and when it was pointed to him that not everyone is earning a ministerial salary on the top of his MP remuneration, he told one of the ladies “well, what stops you from getting elected to the parliament?” She answered honestly that she can’t imagine herself getting into politics as she is unable to lie. Within 10 minutes since the minister left she was called to her superiors and she was sacked on the spot, despite 25 years of history of employment and 11 years of exceptional service as a branch manager… This case sparkled so much outrage that Cieślak was asked by Kaczyński himself to step down, which means basically he got sacked himself, while the Post Office employee retained her job after all, so it would be the good outcome if not for the fact that it shows how PiS thinks that the whole country is their own playground, and brings a question: how many times someone was harassed for not brown-nosing PiS and we don’t know about it? There are some cases that suggest this is not unusual, such as the case of the city of Opole’s Water and Sewage company managed by the father of Patryk Jaki, one of the MEP’s from the ruling coalition…
And isn’t it enough for PiS that they are brown-nosed by bishops? Archbishop Jędraszewski recently for example con-celebrated a mass to celebrate 73. birthday of Kaczyńscy brothers, during which he said that Lech Kaczyński was the “most wonderful of Polish presidents”, “a fighter for the Polish truth” and “equal to kings”. Truly, the church does everything to ensure Poles will run away screaming from it even faster than they already do.
It might be, though, that they will have to flee on foot. The Post Office woman was right – the prices are skyrocketing. Petrol is at nearly 8 zł now, and the state-owned oil giant owner is preparing for further increases, they are extending price-displaying screens on their gas stations to accommodate extra digit. And judging from the size of the new field, they expect the new digit in the front to not stop at 1…
Orlen już przygotowany na “jedynkę” z przodu na wyświetlaczach – po lewej wyświetlacz stacji w marcu, po prawej w czerwcu.
Zdjęcie ePoznań pic.twitter.com/PQBpo9KPzn
— Waldy Dzikowski (@waldydzikowski) June 2, 2022
Meanwhile, some of the opposition MP’s point out that Orlen (which has de facto monopoly on the Polish fuel market, as even other brands mostly sell fuels from Orlen’s refineries) records unprecedented profit margins and could easily lower the price of petrol by at least 1 zł. Many recall Kaczyński’s speech from 10 years ago, used also in PiS election spot, when he was in opposition and was outraged to see petrol at 5zł 40gr, pointing out that the government has many ways to lower the burden on the drivers. But this time it is impossible. As Magdalena Ogórek – formerly presidential candidate of the Left and nowadays PiS’s answer to Margarita Simonyan in government-controlled TVP – explained to her viewers: If fuel was cheaper, Czechs and Germans would come and buy all our fuel, so there would be not enough left for Polish and Ukrainian cars in Poland.
Red. M. Ogórek o tym dlaczego Orlen nie może obniżyć cen paliw. pic.twitter.com/EJObbcvCSM
— Ogladam”Wiadomości”,bo nie stać mnie na dopalacze2 (@OgladamW) June 9, 2022
So Poles will pay through their noses for petrol and diesel only so Czechs won’t be able to save a haléř or two… How typical 😉
Meanwhile, petrol and diesel are not the only fuels that get more expensive. People complain about the costs of heating their homes and look scared about the next heating season. Coal gets more expensive, and the price of wood used in wood-burning stoves nearly doubled as well. Luckily the government always offers solutions. „People still can provided they sought permission of a local forest ranger, gather sticks in the forest“. This is true. Except that you still have to pay even for the brushwood you gathered yourself, otherwise, you might be accused of theft.
If only Poles were smart and invested wisely. Like our prime minister Morawiecki for example, who, while repeating that news about incoming inflation (which currently, after excluding items with rigid state-controlled prices is at 14% which is the worst in this century so far) was just scaremongering, himself removed his savings from the bank and invested 4.6 mln zł in state bonds which protect investors from inflations (and he is in charge of how much the investors will be paid when they sell their bonds back). Many people in the know followed his example. Like Grzegorz Bierecki, PiS senator and Kaczyński‘s money man, told to be a mastermind of the SKOK scandal (see more here), that siphoned money from the cooperative savings banks to fund PiS‘ march to power. He bought 10 000 000 zł worth of state bonds recently…
Meanwhile, the state will still not get any money from European recovery funds. After Ursula von der Leyen made it clear during her recent visit to Warsaw that Poland won’t see a single euro until it completes the steps required to bring back rule of law in our country, Morawiecki was trying to convince her, that there is nothing wrong with rule of law in Poland and even if something is not up to scratch, he already works to sort it out, in parliament, they rejected all changes that would bring their reforms to the justice system to the European standards. Even despite the fact that Morawiecki, who just assured von der Leyen that Poland is in great financial shape was telling the MPs that in the face of the incoming crisis, Poland need that money.
So far though PiS seems to be mostly focused on spending those they still have. Kraków for example, that in a referendum strongly opposed the government‘s idea to organize the Winter Olympics there, was blessed with being a host of the new European Olympics. This time the city residents were not asked if they want it or not, because everyone knows they would be strongly against it – European Olympics were so far organized twice, by Azerbaijan and Belarus, they cost a fortune and nobody – including leading athletes or sports fans – cares about them. So the government goes ahead anyway, and the city mayor calms down the councilors saying that the central government will pay for most of it anyway and the city will be left with many useful sports objects. If they will be as useful as the football stadium in my hometown in Wrocław that remains mostly empty since Euro 2012 and many people seriously call for it to be demolished or converted into an office building for the city council due to the losses generated by it, then we will really need those European funds to stop us Kraków from going bankrupt in few years.
But perhaps the government will find some excuses to say those sports venues are of strategic importance. That‘s what they do with the canal through Vistula Split, as with it being nearly ready and still no sign of shipping companies willing to invest in improving the port of Elbląg – or even travel to it – they now try to change their tune and instead of painting golden future for it as an economic enterprise, stress how important it is for our navy in days of Russia aggressive expansion. Unfortunately, the military experts who would explain how exactly it gives us any strategic advantage are nowhere to be found. Just as all those tonnes of amber that were to be found during digging the canal and virtually fund the whole project, so it would be virtually free. But with the earthwork nearly complete, they only managed to extract 17 kgs of it so far.
And speaking of Russia‘s war, how is the refugee situation going? The army of volunteers is exhausted and slowly losing momentum. First tensions are visible as Ukrainians settle down in Poland and compete with local people for jobs or housing. Luckily many were able to return to their homes or at least to Western Ukraine, but thousands still remain in mega-centres where several thousands of them are housed in gigantic exhibition halls and instead of dispersing them into communities, the government merges existing centres into even bigger ones – recently 1200 refugees from Warsaw were relocated to a huge whole market centre in Nadarzyn to join 3200 who are already hosted there. So much for Poland „not having to organize refugee camps“.
Dear readers, I would like to apologize for that my column is being delayed recently. I wanted to get involved with my friends who organize help for refugees in Poland, and since we established that the best way for me to help them from Scotland is to get some extra work and send money, I got a bit carried away with getting extra shifts after I was offered a profitable gig and I ended up driving trucks, pulling tankers full of dangerous flammable liquid, known better as whisky, across Scottish Highlands. I‘ve being doing this full time on night shift for the recent few weeks and it left me virtually no time to do anything else.
I will try to scale it down a bit so to be able to come back to writing a regular piece at least once in a fortnight.
This column was written for Britské Listy
Picture: Bartosz Staszewski (CC 2.5).