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Polish bishops concerned over EU Constitution

Ruling party wants to legalise gay unions

October 3, 2003

WARSAW, Poland — Bishops from Poland's powerful Roman Catholic church criticized Tuesday the draft proposal for the European Union's constitution as not only lacking a reference to God, but discriminating against the faithful.

The bishops, who gathered in Warsaw for a regular, two-day plenary session, also condemned plans by the ruling ex-communist party to liberalize the nation's strict abortion law and grant gay couples partnership rights similar to those for married couples.

"With great concern we notice a lack of reference not only to God," in the preamble of the future European Constitution, but also "any reference to conscience as a basic criterion of moral evaluation," the bishops said in a statement.

They said the proposal lacks respect for religious beliefs and is a "discrimination of the faithful, who constitute a decisive majority of European population."

Overwhelmingly Catholic Poland, which is to join the European Union in May, has been campaigning for the inclusion of a reference to Europe's Christian roots in the new EU constitution.

In another statement, the bishops repeated their criticism of a plan by some members of the ruling Democratic Left Alliance party of Prime Minister Leszek Miller to liberalize the nation's strict anti-abortion law as well as legalize homosexual unions.

Both bills are expected to be presented to parliament this fall.

Polish gay rights advocates estimate the number of homosexuals in Poland at 2 million, and complain they are the nation's largest minority, but do not enjoy any rights.

The bishops said such proposals "should not be supported by any Catholic" and warned that "an attempt to create a social order coupled with disregard for human dignity leads to an inhuman society."

Poland had a liberal abortion policy under communism, but laws passed in 1993 allow pregnancy to be terminated only if the woman's health is threatened, the fetus is irreparably damaged, or if the pregnancy results from rape or incest. –Sapa-AP

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