When Poland’s Archbishop of Krakow talks about fighting a plague, he’s not talking about the new coronavirus. He’s talking about gay rights.
“A certain ideology is a threat to our hearts and minds…so we need to defend ourselves just like against any other plague”, says Archbishop Jedraszewski.
In the 1980s Poland played a central part in liberating the world from communism. Now there’s a push to wind back many of those hard-won freedoms.
The Catholic church and the Polish government are forming a holy alliance, joining forces to denounce Western-style liberalism as the new enemy.
“From the very beginning the history of the Polish state and Polish nation were connected with the history of Christianity”, says Archbishop Jedraszewski.
“Christianity, nation and state were so tightly connected, they were almost inseparable.”
In today’s Poland, the church is supporting government moves to discriminate against gay people, wind back sex education and outlaw abortion.
But feminists, gays and liberals are fighting back.
Foreign Correspondent’s Eric Campbell reports on a deeply divided nation in the throes of a culture war.
He meets the Archbishop of Krakow who likens gay activists to the much-reviled Soviets who occupied Poland after the Second World War.
“This time it is not a red but a rainbow plague”, says Archbishop Jedraszewski.
Regional governments across Poland have declared about a third of the country ‘an LGBT free zone’.
Eric interviews critics of the current government, including Lech Walesa, the father of Polish democracy, who warns “our Constitution is being broken, the separation of powers has been violated and we have to do something about it.”
He meets a gay mayor in a small town who says the rhetoric from church and state is leading to an “increase in hatred spreading against homosexual people.”
And he films at a far-right rally in Warsaw where Catholic extremists are co-opting the church in their bid to push their nationalist agenda and vision of Poland as a new theocracy.
While many Poles believe a religious revival will lead their country to the light, others fear it is opening the gates to something darker.
Foreign Correspondent: A New Crusade Tuesday 28th April at 8pm on ABC and on iview.