After the presidential plane crashed near Smolensk (Russia) on April 10th, the nation came to mourn 96 victims who perished in the crash. Amongst them there were the president of Poland, Lech Kaczynski, his wife and other state officials. That tragedy brought the nation together at the site of Presidential Palace in Warsaw where candles were lit and lights laid to commemorate those who died. The boy scouts erected a cross as a symbol of loss of life in the tragedy. This cross has later become a central point of national dispute about its role and place in the whole process of mourning. As a religious symbol, it underlined a leading role of the Catholic Church and its strong influences in the state that, according to the constitution, separates the Church from its organizations.
Then there were the presidential elections where Lech Kaczynski’s twin brother, Jaroslaw, was a strong candidate for the top office in Poland. But in a run-off he lost to his opponent Bronislaw Komorowski. The time of mourning passed or at least it should have passed and the cross was suggested to be removed to more appropriate place of mourning like a church, for instance, where people would still come, lit candles, mourn and still pray for the victims, if they wanted to. But the cross became a site of a new cult and some organized pilgrimages from all over Poland. Some catholic fundamentalists who constantly take turns to keep vigil on the cross’s site insisted to keep it where it is until a monument is designed and erected on the site (“to the historical memory of future generations”, they say) and then the cross be removed. They have been warning around to fight to the bitter end to keep the cross where it is and even give their life if it is removed. They threaten to bring coal miners who had been making a lot of troubles to former communist regimes in the past, this time to protect the cross.
The Catholic Church is flourishing like never before. One of its bishops says, “…the whole dispute has to be solved in a spirit of law and justice”. It’s not a coincidence why the bishop used these words – the deceased president represented the party “Law and Justice”. Recently, Jaroslaw Kaczynski has come to the rescue by saying that “…the cross is a symbol of the deceased president” (0:32 of the above video) and “…everybody who claims otherwise is demonstrating a serious moral abuse” (0:51 video).
Poland again has been divided for pros and cons of both ideas for the cross, either to still be there or to go now to another place and the discussions are still going on right under the cross.
As a matter of fact, the cross is a symbol of fighting back of those whose candidate (Jaroslaw Kaczynski) lost the presidential elections. It’s very easy for Jaroslaw to say what he says to support those who want to commemorate his brother and still being very comfortable to promote his catholic sympathies to get comfort from those who although voted for him, were not in majority in Poland to give him the top chair of the president. It’s easy for the cross defenders to vent out their frustrations that not their candidate, now the president, is now involved in the action of moving the cross to another place from in front of his eyes.
Sometimes it seems that Poland again has been divided in this dispute the way it was divided during the presidential elections. And again it’s still easy to define two parts of the country - Poland A and Poland B. The emotions involved are on the rise on both disputed sides.
The dividing line is visible everywhere in every aspect of Polish life - political, social, family, I bet it's discussed fiercely during the lunch and coffee breaks.
What can be bothering though is a notion of a “moral abuse” that came from Jaroslaw Kaczynski. What is it, this all “moral abuse”, is it a new legal category? If there is an act of abuse, it has to be persecuted and the culprits (or abusers) sentenced.
C’mon, Jaroslaw, give us a clear definition of “moral abuse” especially in this very context of the cross, either staying where it is or being moved to another location. Let us know what kind of “moral abuse” will demonstrate those who want the cross to be moved from in front of the presidential office in the country that separates its organizations (or at least it should) from the institution of the church. Or maybe you, as a lost presidential candidate, were never intending to constitutionally keep religion and the state separated. So don't be surprised that some people call you a politician in "retro style".