“Ecologism is a very dangerous phenomenon,” warns the Archbishop of Kraków, Marek Jędraszewski, who says that it is “contrary to the Bible” and represents a “return to Engels”.
In an interview with TV Republika, the archbishop also mentioned teenage environmental activist Greta Thunberg, whom he says “is becoming an oracle for all political and social forces” that are trying to “break with the entire Christian tradition”.
The remarks appear to put Jędraszewski at odds with Pope Francis, who has placed great emphasis on environmental protection, outlining his vision of “integral ecology” in the encyclical Laudato si‘.
Just last month, Francis announced that the Catholic church is considering introducing a “sin against ecology” to its teachings. Two weeks ago, he described Thunberg as “a great witness to what the Church teaches on the care of the environment and the care of the person”.
The archbishop’s remarks are his latest to have stirred controversy. Jędraszewski has this year repeatedly attacked “LGBT ideology”, calling it a “rainbow plague” that threatens Poland in the same way that Nazism and Bolshevism once did. He has also warned that multiculturalism makes people “reject the value of the nation”.
The archbishop has also previously called the 'evil' of multiculturalism a 'systematically programmed and financed departure from the traditional nation-state in order to create a mix of races' that has caused great 'misfortune' in western countries https://t.co/vmhqwQvMlg
— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) September 2, 2019
In the new interview, Jędraszewski describes ecologism as a “very dangerous phenomenon”. He says that it is “contrary to everything that is written in the Bible”, which tells man to “subdue the earth” for his own needs.
The archbishop sees ecologism as part of a broader threat from “various new movements”:
Everything is suddenly being questioned; in fact, our culture is being questioned; the whole world order is being reversed, starting from the fact that the existence of God, the creator, is being questioned; the role and dignity of every human is being questioned…I’ll put it briefly: [this is] a return to Engels and his claims that marriage is another manifestation of oppression, and that in the name of equality one must break with the entire Christian tradition.
The archbishop notes that a “teenage activist”, Greta Thunberg, has “becomes the oracle for all [these] political and social forces”.
His remarks, which were published late on Christmas Eve, drew widespread discussion over the holiday period.
The deputy mayor of Warsaw, Pawel Rabiej, from the liberal Modern (Nowoczesna) party, tweeted a picture of the Australian bushfires and wrote: “there is no worse plague in the civilised world than those who question the need to care for our planet”. He told Jędraszewski to “go to hell, that’s your place”.
Z perspektywy dotkniętej ogniem #Australia, gdzie dziś jestem mogę powiedzieć jedno. Nie ma dziś gorszej zarazy w cywilizowanym świecie niż ci, którzy kwestionują konieczność dbania o naszą planetę i jej ochronę Jędraszewski, idź do diabła, tam jest twoje miejsce. pic.twitter.com/ShZO5lKsnf
— Pawel Rabiej (@PawelRabiej) December 26, 2019
The archbishop was, however, supported by Artur Stelmasiak, an editor at Catholic magazine Niedziela. He praised Jędraszewski for recognising “the problem of the extreme-left ideology of ecologism”. “In my opinion, abortion, LGBT and climate are a common ideological vehicle,” wrote Stelmasiak.
— Artur Stelmasiak (@ArturStelmasiak) December 25, 2019
Climate change is attracting growing attention in Poland, a country that still generates around 80% of its power from coal. Following its re-election in October, the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) created a new climate ministry, whose head has promised to take the issue seriously.
However, the government has so far refused to sign up to EU climate targets. Earlier this month, Poland was the only member state not to agree to the goal of reaching climate neutrality by 2050, leading to a rebuke from French president Emmanuel Macron.
A further round of youth climate strikes have been held around Poland today, with thousands of youngsters skipping school to "remind politicians of their responsibility…to conduct climate policy based on science" #strajkklimatyczny https://t.co/3ByoUQfgDR
— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) November 29, 2019
Main image credit: Archidiecezja Krakowska Biuro Prasowe/Flickr (under public domain)
Daniel Tilles is editor-in-chief of Notes from Poland and assistant professor of history at the Pedagogical University of Krakow. He has written on Polish affairs for a wide range of publications, including Foreign Policy, POLITICO Europe, The Independent and Dziennik Gazeta Prawna.