In a wide-ranging and hard-hitting interview with EWTN Germany, Archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki of Poznan, president of the Polish bishops’ conference, said that were we to cease to recognize sinfulness, then Christ’s Incarnation would be rendered “void of its meaning.”
“We void the meaning of the whole work of the incarnation because we say that Christ has not come to us; however, beyond Christ, there is no salvation or redemption,” Archbishop Gadecki told EWTN’s Robert Rauhut in an interview which took place shortly before the Synod on the Family began.
The Polish archbishop also cautioned against chasing fads in the Church, as well as the social sciences, and discussed the importance of unity in doctrine, the continuing relevance of St. John Paul II’s teaching, the intimacy between justice and mercy, and how the Church can help marriages and families.
Please find the full text of the interview below, as translated by R. Andrew Krema:
EWTN: Your Excellency, the first question: Today, we live in a world that seems to be dominated by a misunderstanding of terms. Therefore, it is helpful to begin by defining what we, as Catholics, understand by the term, “Sacramental Marriage.”
Archbisop Gadecki: One could look at it from the perspective of canon law, or one could also look at it from the perspective of pastoral teaching. In number 48 of the Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et spes of the Second Vatican Council, the Catholic marriage is described as “intima communio vitae et amoris,” so practically, as an intimate companionship of life and of the love of two people, a man and a woman, who mutually complement each other. This complementarity defines the Catholic marriage. However, that’s not all because – at the same time – overlying the marriage is a communion with Christ, which is why the Catholic marriage is not merely a sociological relationship and social plane on which man and woman stand. It is rather – at the same time – n image of the relationship and communion that exists between Christ and the Church. Hence, we heard before the Synod – the first session of the extraordinary Synod – we heard a Jewish Rabbi, who spoke about marriage: that we all must be aware that there is a difference between an ordinary, natural marriage, and a religious marriage. In the natural marriage, there are two people, namely man and woman. In the religious marriage, there are three people, namely, God, man, and woman. And this is applicable to Catholic marriage, which is not just a communion between two human persons; rather, it is elevated by grace, by Christ.
EWTN: In Germany, the discussion of the Synod concentrates itself primarily around two problems. One problem is the permission of married persons to Holy Communion, who live in an extramarital relationship. The other problem is the recognition of same-sex relationships. Archbishop, what do you make of it?
Archbishop Gadecki: When talking about homosexual relationships, they can never be called “marriages.” They can call it what they want, but in the understanding of the Church, there is no such thing as a marriage between two people of the same sex, whether it be two women or two men. Therefore, this topic should not be a subject of the Synod, because the Synod deals with the family in the Catholic understanding. In contrast, we have here a relationship that has nothing to do with Catholicism. We may act with respect toward the dignity of every person, who abides in such a relationship – toward his or her human dignity – but we absolutely cannot call it a marriage. And a state which calls such a relationship a marriage, does great harm to the culture, which has established itself over 2,000 years. That’s one thing. When talking about allowing divorced-and-remarried persons to Holy Communion, there is a huge restriction of the Synod’s set of topics, because the Synod is not gathered to decide on this point. The Synod is gathered to resolve the new pastoral problems of marriage and the family, and to show the vocation of marriage and family in light of divine revelation such that they are in accord with, and not against, divine revelation. Therefore, I think that those who reflect on whether divorced-and-remarried Catholics should be allowed to receive Communion must “unfortunately” hear the voice, which was there from the beginning, to which Jesus referred in chapter 10 of Mark’s Gospel and in chapter 19 of Matthew’s Gospel, where he says that it was not so in the beginning. From an exegetical perspective, one can say that it is not only about the temporal aspect – that at the creation of the world, or before the creation of the world, it was not so. So, one can temporally understand the “in the beginning it was not so,” but it could also be understood as St. Augustine did: “from the beginning on,” which means “in Jesus Christ.” Christ is the Beginning, the Word, and the Wisdom of God who created the world. So, “in the beginning,” which means “in Christ,” it was not so. Christ calls himself the “Beginning.” And there is one other interpretation, which is very interesting, whose origin is beyond the Jewish tradition. It comes from the Greek tradition. It says “en arche,” which means “according to the law.” “According to the law,” it was not so. “Bereshit” can also be translated as “en arche” in Greek. “According to the law, it was not so.” For the Catholic Church, the words of Christ against divorce and new relationships form not only a guideline as the way to holiness but also establish the sacrament.
EWTN: But what does that mean? Now there are some theologians who say that the pastoral situation should change, but the doctrine should not. If the pastoral approach changes, then does the doctrine also change?
Archbishop Gadecki: Everything changes. If the thinking changes, then the praxis also changes. Therefore, one cannot change the doctrine expecting that the praxis will stay the same or that it will not undergo any changes.
EWTN: I want to return once more about the question of same-sex partnerships, which should strictly not be a topic of the Synod. Nonetheless, we hear of more voices in Germany that the people in these relationships are living in “fidelity and responsibility.” The sociological data show something else. Archbishop, what’s your take on it?
Archbishop Gadecki: Let’s put it this way: surveys and sociology in relation to theology can have a supportive, but not a determining, role. Christ said, “Male and female he created them” and only a complimentary relationship, which they mutually serve each other, is a relationship that one can rightly call, according to the bible, a family – initially a marriage, then a family. And therefore the whole drive of modernity is what we now feel and in a very strong form because during the first session of the Synod, the African Bishops bemoaned that large aid funds were made available in order to establish so-called “gay marriage” as legally allowed in these African countries. It seems to me that we sense something similar when pressure comes from organizations originating closer to us than those that the African countries endure.
EWTN: Which organizations are you talking about?
Archbishop Gadecki: I think that on one side, there are those organizations which command massive monetary resources and which are at the same time influenced by this homosexual crisis. Whether it’s Brussels, or New York or Washington, is anyone’s guess, but there is definitely a homosexual lobby that clearly attempts not only to gain tolerance concerning itself, but also tries to upend the classical sense of marriage that has a tremendous tradition behind it.
EWTN: And does this so-called “Gay lobby” also operate in the Church?
Archbishop Gadecki: I do not think that prudent bishops or priests could create such an influential lobby that functions in the Church and could produce results in accordance with the worldwide gay lobby. Perhaps there is someone with homosexual tendencies who would like for his presence to be tolerated. The Church can cherish and tolerate everyone, but she can absolutely not promote active homosexuality, something that clearly has been decided in the Bible. The Church lives from the Word of God. There is no possibility to allow such a condition in which we turn our back on the Bible; otherwise we would be avoiding our source, without which the Church becomes a desert.
EWTN: A few influential voices in Germany have said in other words, “the Church in Germany cannot wait until the Synod or someone else makes assertive decisions because we have to act today.” My question is, is it possible to think that something in the German Church could be allowed that would not be allowed, say, in the Polish or African churches?
Archbishop Gadecki: That isn’t possible. Since a canonical praxis is possible; in other words, there is certain pragmatism; certain provisions exist for the life of the Church in each country considering the circumstances of each country in which the Church exists. The organization of the life of the Church looks different in Africa than it does in Greenland, or Europe, or South America. But this organization of the life of the Church is a secondary question. On the contrary, the unity of the doctrine is the top priority, that is to say the one and the same teaching of the Catholic Church. The Church cannot sing with 100 different voices, as the post-moderns would hope. Also if it seems that we carry the impression that these voices are sparse and say that something else among ourselves is contradictory to one another, then that is the effect of a mistake, but not a questioning of principle, which is the one and Catholic doctrine of teaching from which the Magisterium is based. If the Church taught 10 or 100 different doctrines, then she would break into 10 or 100 different Churches; but the Church is one, catholic, and apostolic.
EWTN: Archbishop, you are an exegete. Sacred Scripture clearly states, “What God has joined together, no human being must separate.” Now we have different exegetes, including Italians, who are trying to show that these words are about indissolubility are actually about dissolubility. What do you think about these theories, Archbishop?
Archbishop Gadecki: I think this is an expression of a tremendous recourse, which happens in relation to the Words of Christ himself. This recourse is comprehensible if we look at Judaism and Islam. Judaism and Islam, as far as I understand, deal with a contract. Marriage is a contract between two parties. This contract can be dissolved at any time. Many of our women, even here in Poland, commit a big mistake by letting themselves be lead by emotions, which is understandable, and enter into a union, say with a Muslim, with the belief that they are bound in a sacrament, while for the Muslim, it is only a contract, which can be dissolved at any moment regardless of whether or not it is the agreement of both parties. And it seems to me that these new exegetical theories that appear, regardless whether it is in Germany or Italy, somehow try to legalize divorce and say that, in essence, Christ didn’t say what he said. And then in a pragmatic way, we solve the problem that concerns the dogma of the indissolubility of marriage. For me, this is an expression of intelligent forsakenness.
EWTN: The so-called “progressive” voices like to call upon the Second Vatican Council but forget the teachings of “the saint of the family” John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI. Which valuable aspect of the teaching of St. John Paul should we not let be forgotten?
Archbishop Gadecki: I think that everything that was written by Cardinal Wojtyla, including The Acting Person, was a major contribution to the thinking on marriage and family. Then came Familiaris consortio and the “Letter to Families.” Each document is a powerful step forward. Those who challenge these teachings don’t have a sheer idea as to what they actually do. They claim that they are “outdated,” which was over 20 years ago, and now we have to move on. The Gospel and the Magisterium of the Church are subject to the same rights, which we define as tradition. In the Church, tradition has its defined form. Tradition is not some conservative source. Tradition is the enduring development with immutability of essence. As Vincent of Lerins said, tradition is like a child. It develops every day. It becomes smarter, bigger, more mature and better educated. But on the other hand, it never essentially changes. It is born like a human, develops like a human, and dies like a human. It never essentially changes. In this sense, the term bears two contradictions: the enduring development and the challenge of change. When we look at the doctrine of the Church, we see that there is a development of the doctrine, but this development never crosses out the Gospel. You can’t cross out the backbone of the Church.
EWTN: John Paul II is not only a “saint of the family” but also a great missionary of “divine mercy” by the encyclical Dives in Misericordia and the canonization of St. Faustina Kowalska. Today, people like to talk about “mercy,” but forget about “justice,” “sin,” and also “truth.”
Archbishop Gadecki: That is a huge hermeneutical mistake. “Justice” and “mercy” are actually inseparably bound together because they show, so to say, two sides of a situation. Justice is giving another person what that person is rightly due. Mercy is giving another person what is not rightly and justly due to another. In other words, both of these realities seem to be in opposition to one another, but are actually inseparable according to the understanding of Catholic doctrine. Divine mercy, which has no limits, is inseparable and best illustrated in the Parable of the Prodigal Son. The Parable of the Prodigal Son shows the steadfastness of divine mercy, that is to say that God is not conditioned by the action of man. He is not conditioned by the action of sinners because God remains merciful to the end. In contrast, the human person doesn’t experience mercy when one sins and says therefore “praise me;” rather, mercy is experienced when one has reached the pit of despair, sees that it was clearly better to be in the house of the Father, and takes a step back to the way to God.
EWTN: What does mercy mean in reference to the family?
Archbishop Gadecki: In the same spirit, God reveals his merciful love in relation to every person, but especially to marriages and families, which are a special creation of this divine love. And surely, divine love reveals itself in marriages and families more than it does outside of marriages and families; or at least this love is easier to perceive. Regardless in what situation marriages find themselves in, whether they be normal or not, they must be conscious that divine mercy unchangingly accompanies them the whole time because only in such a setting as this will marriages not fall into the feeling of guilt; rather, they strive to come out of sin and turn back towards grace.
EWTN: Today, the understanding of a “sense of sin” is vanishing. We hear those, who demand an adaptation of the Church to the world, which often leads to us forgetting the third person in the relationship – God – due to a reduction of theology to sociology. Is this path promising?
Archbishop Gadecki: It has no future. Sometimes we use sociology in order to describe religious phenomena, but that is a fragile, inadequate tool. On the contrary, if one loses this notion of sinfulness, then practically every attitude is good. There is nothing from which one has to convert; but the Gospel begins with the words: “Repent and believe in the Kingdom of God!” And Jesus Christ speaks of himself, of his mission, why he has come into the world, of his coming to the sinners. If we don’t recognize sinfulness, then we can say that the coming of Christ is void of its meaning. We void the meaning of the whole work of the incarnation because we say that Christ has not come to us; however, beyond Christ, there is no salvation or redemption.
EWTN: I want to make reference to the contemporary challenges that face the family. One of these challenges is the so-called “gender theory” or “gender-mainstreaming.” Archbishop, you have personally experienced communism. Do you see similarities between the emergence of cultural Marxism today and that of communism from the past, against which the family and marriage fought?
Archbishop Gadecki: Surely, there is something in common. There is a present similarity between these two trends because both communism and post-communist leftist movements hold no value with respect to the human person. In other words, they do not respect the human person and its value like Christianity does; these movements attempt to ruin all interpersonal relationships. Communism wanted to break up society by class, and the solidarity of the classes, and also antagonize one against another. And now this is happening through another, more subtle intrusion – the tenets of gender: the questioning of correctness of the existence of marriage and family; the destruction of the institution of marriage; and family as “oppressive,” which contributes against the growth of humanity and its existence would reduce humanity. Therefore, I think there are different instruments and different methodologies, but the goal is the same: the pulverization of the society so that the human person stays alone and people can boldly and more skillfully manipulate humanity.
EWTN: Archbishop, do you then mean that this more subtle theory is also considerably more dangerous?
Archbishop Gadecki: No doubt. Humanity has not oriented itself very quickly to today’s theories, for in the earlier Marxist class systems, humanity knew that injustice was in the theories. And if today one were to talk about gender – that humanity is different, and that there are different cultures, then one would be fishing for something that appears very worthwhile, say treating each person individually on a subjective basis, which, by the way, is the foundation of individualism. In other words, when ‘genderism’ enters the room, it is about a pure ideology, which actually tries to destroy marital and familial relationships evincing the society that many want to create is classless.
EWTN: How can the Church counteract “gender-mainstreaming” and the cultural “Marxism?”
Archbishop Gadecki: I think this can be counteracted through the doctrine of true Christian teaching: that which makes people conscious of the value of the human person, about the splendor of marriage and family, about love and responsibility, which is connected to the whole, about everything that is, up to this point, present in the teaching of the Church. The responsiveness and assistance, which the Church can render to marriage and family, establishes that the Church has an anthropology that corresponds to humanity. And by teaching and remembering this, the Church accomplishes a big step forward toward this situation, which Pope Francis called a “field hospital.” She takes on the role of the “field hospital” where the broken are brought to be healed. This healing does not often succeed because the human person today can be so closed in his individualism that he does not allow any other thought to approach him besides his own opinions and convictions. There are also certainly other difficulties that we need to be aware of, like a good preparation for marriage and family – that those who enter into marriage are made aware that it isn’t about “folklore” such as flowers, music and pictures, but that they are entering into a sacrament, which is inseparable and indissoluble. Particularly, it seems that a good marriage preparation includes an exploration of the couple’s faith, or if they actually have any faith. For if they have no faith, their entrance into marriage will be hurt, and the sacrament will never arrive at its fulfillment, even though Christ ceaselessly accompanies them with his grace. Those are some possible ways to help marriages and families. The differences between then and now of the teaching of the Church, in view of this, entails that people then had prepared earlier, closer and more direct preceding the wedding, in contrast with today in which the preparation is for marriage until death, for continual accompaniment until death. And in this preparation, a particular change occurred: back then people held the idea that the priest was assumed to be the one to help the couple prepare for the wedding and accompany them in various ways. However, the discourse today, especially in the first part of the Synod, is that there has to be a much stronger Christian involvement with families. These Christian marriages in parishes should engage in helping struggling families and be an example of a life and show others that it is possible to live in a relationship in which there is fidelity, in which there is an indissoluble bond, and in which there is also, at the same time, love, which is inwardly and outwardly expressed.
EWTN: Genderism and cultural Marxism are political challenges that we face today. Another challenge is the economization of marriages; in other words, when talking about both partners in a marriage, there is an internal economization of marriage just as there is an external economization. In what way can the Church act in order to support marriages in light of this challenge?
Archbishop Gadecki: I think the basic type of support lies in drawing attention to the fact that the human person has priority over everything else, including the economy, culture, politics, and anything else. The human person is the reference point of the Church. If this is so, the human person is not at the service of the economy; rather, the economy is to serve people. If you take the present situation and look closely, one notices the full subordination of the family to other things such as the economy – each family member under the economy. We presently find examples of this in corporations, where people are maximally exploited, because in this economy,it is about nothing but massive profits, in principle. You can indeed talk about cultural changes, but that does not have a greater meaning. In this case, it is mainly about beating out even more money.
EWTN: Marriage is certainly not a commodity…
Archbishop Gadecki: And marriage is not a commodity. And if we now subordinate marriage and family to the economy, we have actually ruined marriage because so long as it brings in profit, it will be exploited by the economy. If this subordination would no longer bring in profit, then we would leave what remains from marriage. And as a result, the subordination ends.
EWTN: How can the church make people more cognizant of this problem?
Archbishop Gadecki: If anything, by the social teaching of the Church as opposed to anything else. People need to be made aware that the human person has more value in what the person is, than in what the person has: that is the philosophical thought taken up and renewed by Pope John Paul II, who spoke to marriages and families. For if they are only geared towards quick economic development, great damage is done unto the family. We have many examples of that today – of young, intelligent, educated people; also women, who begin their professional life and are exploited by their employers – corporations – until the very end. They tell me of a reoccurring phenomenon; namely, that people work 12 or 14 hours daily, sit until late at night in the office working, and this life works out for a few years. After a good education and a nice salary, it works out. And then after a while it begins to go downhill, and they begin to take drugs to break in on the daily rhythm. And after a certain time, this will be noticeable and they are thrown away like trash. Then the next person comes in and makes the same mistakes and goes out the same way. If we accept such a subordinate criteria for the economy, we undoubtedly ruin marriage and the family. And now I hear that the newest sociological studies have turned the situation around, and now people are beginning to say that a married woman in the workplace is much more valuable than an unmarried woman. In other words, they are more valuable than those who are “single” and have put everything into a full career. Those who are married women and mothers are much more responsible, plan better, can better allot their energy, and are simply more valuable to their respective institutions than those who are not married and don’t have families. The criteria changes, the situation changes, and the Church should not run after every concern just to ultimately sit back with empty hands.
EWTN: Another source of challenges comes from the media and their images of relationships, family, and marriage on the Internet and in television. How can the Church react to these challenges?
Archbishop Gadecki: Yes, that’s true. The image of marriage and family in the media is a tragedy. What is mostly depicted as “marriage” by the media has nothing to do with Christianity. That is the view of the actors on life, which is later transferred and projected to society. People who, perhaps shall we say, are somewhat simple, receive these programs unresponsively, especially television programs. And after a while, they begin to mimic these behaviors that they see: adultery, infidelity, exchange of partners, the drive for success, lust, glamor, and so on. Like it or not, the media destroys marriage. Of course it cannot be said universally that all of media does so, but in the majority, I think. It is not only a plan that the media deploys, but also something that corresponds to the nature of the media because the television media especially has a narrow perspective of reality and can only show this narrow view of reality – only what can pass through the camera lens. On this account, so it appears to me, the nature of the media is itself a fraud.
EWTN: Where can Catholics find good examples?
Archbishop Gadecki: I think that in this moment, we convince ourselves more and more that if there were not a strong Catholic media, people would find themselves in a hopeless situation. And thus, in reading today, tons of books, even good books, are published that nobody wants to read, and – let’s put it this way – they are not especially big academic books for which one requires a certain preparation; rather, they are popular works about marriage, the family, about children that nobody wants to read. That’s why I think that if people have already fallen into this view, we must at least attempt to show the fuller reality in Catholic media, through which people are encouraged to strive for what is “above” so that they will not be pulled down – like the media – into the deep abyss; rather, that they turn back towards the Spirit. So that they don’t live, as St. Paul said, striving for the body, but they strive for the Spirit.
EWTN: A consequence of the many negative examples is a huge lack of knowledge, even among the laity in the Church, on what marriage is, what the family is, what’s behind them, and despite catechesis in Germany, and perhaps partly in Poland too, this lack of knowledge seems to be catastrophic. What can the Church do so that Catholics are aware of what they should believe?
Archbishop Gadecki: Yes. I would begin the answer here by saying that the lack of knowledge of the teachings on marriage is not greater than the lack of knowledge about some other topics. Today, we could say, it’s sufficient just to go to school, and when the school year begins, the children have already forgotten what they learned the previous year. The schooling of children is a terribly complicated matter, very complicated and very difficult. It reaches some, but for others it does not, bypassing them into oblivion and is eventually washed out. One completes a college education as a great expert of one specific narrow field, but everything else appears of little importance or essence to his work. Something similar is happening with Catholic teaching. One learns the catechism from grammar school to high school and even through college, in campus ministry. And from this comes the common tragic result: someone heard something somewhere but does not know what it’s about. Therefore, we have to take care of the teaching of priests who preach, but in relation to television, that’s nothing – practically a couple of minutes compared to many hours of the impact of television, but the situation is not hopeless. For if, say, a person takes this interest up, then he goes back later and searches on his own. Today, the internet is, on one hand, an abyss, and on the other, we could say, an encyclopedia of knowledge; perhaps not the highest, but at least something simpler that can also be used for Catholic teaching. In Poland, the Church websites and those of Church organizations and groups are very rich.
EWTN: Also with regards to marriage?
Archbishop Gadecki: Yes, the whole apostolic teaching office is translated into Polish and accessible. Also accessible are all of the texts from Paul VI, John Paul II, as well as Pope Benedict XVI, and his Opera Omnia, which have been published by the Catholic University of Lublin. So whoever feels the desire can arrive at the source.
EWTN: Must the Church offer marriage preparation courses, and do they need to be intensified during married life?
Archbishop Gadecki: Yes, this is also a problem that these marriage preparation courses, so to say, do not have the character of the completion of office work; rather, that they give a solid foundation for marriage and family. We are also thinking of another form. We are preparing it, and a certain part of it – adult catechesis – has already been done knowing that the catechesis does not bring the children and youth much because it will actually be ruined by the parents, most frequently by their behavior or by apathy in contrary to what the children have learned. So we have to give more attention to adult catechesis in various forms, the simplest being sacramental catechesis. When their child is baptized, receives first Holy Communion, or is Confirmed, the catechesis won’t be about the children but about the situation of the parents – how they are, and what they can do to become closer to Christ.
EWTN: In your opinion, Archbishop, when we look full of hope towards the future, in what areas should the Church be especially present in order to support marriages and families? What are the fields? Media? Marriage preparation courses?
Archbishop Gadecki: I think media, catechesis, ordinary teaching, publications, all these manners – also Catholic readings, Catholic press – are good and at a good standard. They are all the means that the Church disposes of. In relation to the pre-war times, they are smaller in number. Back then, during the time between the world wars, the Catholic press was strong, tremendously strong; but, compared to today, we can say that the quality has risen.
EWT N: And what about the groups in which married couples can actually meet?
Archbishop Gadecki: There are certainly more family support groups… for us the domestic Church is highly developed. In other words, there are people who have been through a liturgical-pastoral preparation led by the Oasis movement of Fr. Blachnitzki and have just married and are now forming Church groups in homes among families. In Germany, these similar types of groups also exist, in which families form particular circles, meet, support each other, and travel with their children together. Something similar happens here as special attention is given to the immersion into the doctrine. There is also Equipes Notre Dame and other movements that support families. There is certainly reassurance especially from young married people who have a need for such support.
EWTN: I want to go back again to the question about people in irregular situations who live according to the doctrine of the Church. How should the Church take care of these people so that they are still present in the Church since this relationship to the Church often falters?
A rchbishop Gadecki: The Synod has principally directed attention to this: to those who are separated; to those who are divorced but not committing themselves to a new relationship; to those who are divorced and committing themselves to a new civil relationship. All of these situations are essentially different and the Church should approach each in a different way. Those who live in separation are strengthened by and encouraged to receive Holy Communion because clearly, let’s put it this way – they live in a situation that does not challenge the sacramental relationship in the sense that there is no dissolution of the indissoluble relationship. Then similarly with those who are divorced but not committed to a new relationship, they also have the right to receive Holy Communion. Often, they don’t know that at all. Those who are divorced and committed to a new relationship must also know that, contrary to what many think, the Church is not closed to them, although it cannot give permission to receive Holy Communion since this is an expression of a full relationship with Christ. They are invited to hear the Word of God, to attend Mass, to engage in charitable works, and to support other families. There are places in the Church in which divorcees who live in new civil relationships can be valuable to themselves and to others.
EWTN: How strongly engaged can people, who are divorced and have remarried, be engaged in the life of the parish? We’re talking about service as perhaps a lector or catechist who prepares children for first Holy Communion. Presently, the Church sees no such possibilities.
Archbishop Gadecki: That is a difficult issue, since we have here not only the question of the impossibility of receiving Holy Communion, but also the representation of the Church in these demanding ministries. For example, the extraordinary minister of Holy Communion cannot be anyone who is divorced and in a new civil relationship because they would be, in a way, an anti-witness; but he or she can be, say, very helpful and be likewise realized in charitable works. He or she can of course teach, but as we fundamentally say in Poland, he or she should not be a catechist since this is a sort of challenge to witness, of authentic witness. So certain functions, not limited only to Holy Communion, needing a legitimate witness, should not be assumed by divorcees living in a new marital relationship.
EWTN: I want to direct attention to the question about children who are often the first victim when a relationship fails, when the parents separate. Must the church increase her attention to and raise her voices for the children?
Archbishop Gadecki: Of course, since what practically exists in divorce is some kind of egoism of the adults. They look at themselves, the impossibility of the two people living together, and at the attempts that led to nothing, but they don’t look a bit at the child. Indeed, a great success of the first Synod was the discussion of homosexual persons – that the problem of homosexuals adopting children is a small example of the rights of the child. Thus, not only do adults have rights, but children have theirs as well. And children have the right to be raised in a complementary family with a mother and a father. In a nutshell: children are not toys in the hands of adults that please them once and then can be thrown away.
EWTN: That means that it is also about the responsibility of the parents.
Archbishop Gadecki: Yes, responsibility. In the case that they resort to divorce, the children wander from one parent to the other as the court decides, and no longer have an example of a good and healthy relationship. And with high likelihood, it will clearly be more difficult for them to start their own family because every little difficulty leads to them letting go of relationships and will search out the next person to exploit.
EWTN: When it comes to the Church in Poland, is she bright, clear and also faithful to the doctrinal teaching of John Paul II and Benedict XVI? Does Pope Francis exactly know the standpoint of the Polish Church?
Archbishop Gadecki: I think he knows it because in practice, the participation of the Polish Church at the first Synod was rather loud. We clearly said that we hold ourselves to, and do not deviate from, the traditional doctrine of the Church, just like the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. I think that everyone who reads what Pope Benedict XVI said to the Roman Rota from 2007 to 2013 finds therein the teaching that can’t be inverted. That is really brilliant teaching – a truly brilliant teaching – under which one should be subordinated and which one should accept. One should not submit to the streams and tendencies of the new age, because the streams will be one thing today and another tomorrow. And the mission of the Church is not to run after the world, but to guide the world and show it the right path. I spoke of this last time here in Thorn at the Crowning of Mary. In a way, the Church takes on the role of a GPS-Navigation system for the human person. I mean that wherever the person is located, wherever he’s gone astray, or has fallen, it suffices that he connects with the Church, and she will show him the way to the goal, regardless of what place in the world he is in and regardless of what spiritual situation he finds himself in.
EWTN: Does that also mean that there can be no compromises given out that would not be faithful to doctrine?
Archbishop Gadecki: I don’t see a possibility to create a compromise between truth and falsity. Which compromise could even be given between truth and falsity?
EWTN: A final question with regard to the future: Archbishop, what hopes do you have for the coming Synod?
Archbishop Gadecki: I think on one side, it will confirm the one teaching we know and that is not an invention of this or any Pope, rather it is of the Church. That is the great stream of the intellectual efforts of the Church and of the faith of the Church. On the other side, it will show how in new ways we can realize the vocation to marriage and family in greater fidelity to Christ and in which way within the Church, which is composed of many different people with various vocations, can be given support through communion. Today, the human person is more exposed to intense pressure and finds himself in a much more secularized world than earlier. In this support, the Church helps the human person not lose itself in the whole. For it is not only a question, to put it this way, of whether or not I take the right steps in life; rather, it is a question about eternity.
By Robert Rauhut