2176Polish Orthodox 'face problems of acceptance' in their country
- Dec 4, 20042004.12.03 ENI:
Ecumenical News International
Daily News Service / 03 December 2004
Polish Orthodox 'face problems of acceptance' in their country
By Jonathan Luxmoore
Warsaw, 3 December (ENI)--The Orthodox church in Poland says it
still faces problems of acceptance in this predominantly Roman
Catholic country, despite celebrating the 80th year of its
independence this month.
"Over the past quarter-century, our church has made significant
progress - using our possibilities to be open to the world, and
making ourselves known," said Grzegorz Misijuk, spokesman for
Poland's 570 000-member Autocephalous Orthodox church.
"Although we are accepted by ordinary people, however, we still
feel pressured by those on both left and right who've built their
capital from dividing people and pointing to imaginary enemies,"
The 61-year-old priest was speaking after a service in Warsaw's
St Mary Magdalene cathedral to mark the anniversary of the
church's granting of autocephality, or independence, by the
Istanbul-based Ecumenical Patriarchate in November 1924.
In an interview, Misijuk said Orthodox Christians had been
reduced to just 2 per cent of the Polish population by border
changes after the Second World War, which had also cut Orthodox
parishes and clergy by nine-tenths.
However, he added that his church now had six eparchies, or
dioceses, 230 priests and 320 churches nationwide, as well as
seven monasteries and convents, its own seminary and a
flourishing network of youth and charity organizations.
"Having seen 400 of our churches destroyed or taken over in
1938-9, the blow was too heavy for us to draw breath," Misijuk
told Ecumenical News International. "Today, though, we've
achieved stable conditions. After enjoying the worst position of
all minority churches here, we are now legally protected."
The Bialystok-based church, which is one of 14 autocephalous
Orthodox churches, was recognised under its own law in 1991 and
began a ministry to the armed forces, with a bishop and 20
priests, in 1994.
In May, the church for the first time won the right to reclaim
properties seized under communist rule without protracted
administrative procedures. However, Orthodox leaders continue to
complain of discrimination in the country, where Roman Catholics
make up 95 per cent of the 39 million population.
"There've been Orthodox parishes on Polish territory for 900
years - so instead of celebrating our church's legal existence,
we should perhaps be asking why it took so long," said Orthodox
* * *
(c) Ecumenical News International
- << Previous post in topic