Not everything is a merchandise
Fr. IRENEUSZ SKUBIŚ
An article entitled 'Priest for Export' was published in Przekroj, issue 27, dated 4 July 2004. In the introduction the author of the article states with open irony that 'apart from milk and beef Germany also imports priests from Poland'. The content of the entire article, which tries to keep objective distance and a fashionable, somewhat non-chalant manner, depicts a priest as a privileged man who only regards his priesthood as a profession.
If people, and priests in this case, are treated on equal basis with imported or exported milk and beef, something seems to be wrong. Fr Stanislaw Budyn, Rector of the Polish Catholic Mission in Germany, sent a protest to the editor of Przekroj. He is outraged about such an approach to this important subject. I share his opinion and regard this text as inappropriate to say the least. I think that the editors of such a serious periodical should not treat anyone so humiliatingly, especially priests. Each priest, a fully matured man, having graduated in philosophy and theology, consciously rejects many joys of this world in order to serve his brothers, independently of their nationalities. There is no reason to tarnish or to trivialize or even to trample on the priest's calling, which is so needed.
For ages numerous Polish priests have been invited to serve in various countries, to work not only as pastors but also to be witnesses of Polish identity. This has been the case in Germany for many years. I once gave retreats to Poles living in a German parish. The priest who shepherded that Polish community followed a Polish method of pastoral work and was very devoted to his ministry. I admired him as a priest and magnificent Pole. Then I understood what it meant for the Polish community abroad to have its own fellow priest. I saw the same attitude in the United States and Canada last year. And it is not only the matter of spiritual lives of Polish immigrants but also our best national values, which we may boast of among other nations. A Polish priest working for other nationalities meets deep social needs and, as you can see, he is not 'unemployed'. It is obvious because religion and priest, who is its tutor, serve good and every normally functioning country can see that.
Polish pastoral work is well organized; we have many priests devoted to their work. It is with great admiration and respect that I look at those priests who build churches, parish facilities for public use, create schools, and teach good behavior and form human character. Polish priests take their diligence to Germany, Italy, England and Austria. One cannot mock a priest because he is good, devoted to his cause and his countrymen's problems - immigrants in need. One cannot compare a priest to goods. It is humiliating not only for priests but also for all faithful. There are certainly circles that with astonishing eagerness try to destroy the good related to the Church. Recently one periodical has treated one of the wonderful Polish bishops in a despicable manner, accusing him of wicked corruptive activities, which have been so common in political elites. It is painful to see such editors who are filled with profound hatred for the Church.
We must react to what the media say against the Church even when provocation appears in such a well-known and respected magazine as Przekroj, which is popular among priests as well. We must protest, demand an apology and make editors aware of the weight of their words. Furthermore, there is still another possibility - awareness, critical attitude and determination of readers. When some newspaper makes fun of something good we simply do not buy it. Perhaps the editors will think this over. Poles should not harm other Poles. However, it often happens that strangers can respect and support one another whereas we foolishly trample on our interests and waste our own good.
Dear Readers, let us defend the good name of priests, teach others to respect them because priests do a lot of good. Do not forget that in the most difficult times the Church always showed solidarity with people, accompanying them in battles and serving them in various countries. It was the case in old times and has been these days as well. A priest will always stand by his brother and help all those who come to him as their pastor. And we should just be happy with this.