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Polish report Polish report
by Euro Reporter
2012-12-10 09:53:12
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Man hurls paint cans at Poland's black Madonna

A man hurled cans of paint at Poland's most sacred icon on Sunday in an attack that failed to damage the Black Madonna of Jasna Gora but shocked many in the staunchly Catholic country. The 58-year-old attacker was detained by guards at the monastery holding the revered depiction of Mary and the baby Jesus in the southern city of Czestochowa, police said.

"The icon is shielded by a protective plate of glass and was unharmed," Czestochowa police spokeswoman Joanna Lazar added. It was unclear why the man carried out the attack or whether the paint cans were open. A statement on the Jasna Gora monastery website said the attacker had tried to deface the icon with a "black substance".

The monastery became a symbol of national pride after Poles successfully defended it against invading Swedish troops in the 17th century. According to legend, the sacred image was painted by St Luke and helped repel the foreign soldiers. Solidarity leader Lech Walesa kept his 1983 Nobel Peace Prize medal at the monastery for safekeeping beyond the reach of the country's then communist rulers who regarded the award as part of a Western plot. Thousands of Poles make pilgrimages to the monastery every year to see the icon, whose origin is shrouded in mediaeval lore.


Poland bans religious animal slaughter, Jews and Muslims angry

A top court in Poland ruled this week that the ritual slaughter of animals by religious groups violates the country’s constitution and animal-protection laws, reports Care2.com. This decision followed presentation of a petition brought by animal-welfare groups. The constitutional court in Poland ruled that kosher slaughter methods, which involve killing livestock while they are still conscious, violates a 2004 government directive which enshrined ritual slaughter as unconstitutional.

The court found regulations that allow animals to have their throats cut and to subsequently be left to bleed to death without prior stunning to be against a 1997 Polish law that slaughter should only “follow the loss of consciousness” after stunning and that the Agricultural Minister did not have the authority to issue such regulations in the first place. In most countries, stunning is believed to be more humane and is required prior to slaughter. However, there are many exemptions for religious slaughter, where Muslims and Jews argue that animals feel no pain. Animal advocates believe notstunning causes severe suffering and stress to animals who are conscious through the process.

Critics of the ruling are concerned about what message it will send about religious tolerance and how it will affect exports of kosher and halal meat. "Poland may need to change its laws on animal welfare in order to preserve ritualized Kosher and Halal slaughter," the country's Ministry of Agriculture said.


Poland's Church fights to save baby boxes

Baby boxes where mothers can leave their newborn babies if they don't want to keep them should not be banned, says the leader of Poland's church. The boxes are heated incubator-style boxes placed on the other side of a door or hatch, often in hospitals, where women can place the baby. A motion sensor then alerts staff that an infant has been abandoned there; however, there is a delay to allow the mother to leave the child without the risk of medical workers seeing her. The boxes were started to stop women abandoning their children in freezing conditions, or feeling they had no choice but to kill their offspring. However, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child has said the scheme denies children a right to know their parents and it should be banned. The committee is taking the case to the European Parliament. Poland is among 11 countries in Europe, which have a baby box system and has 40 such units across the country.

Speaking in response to the call for the ban, Archbishop Jozef Kowalczyk, the Roman Catholic primate of Poland, said the "windows of life" saved lives and were part of the country's traditions. He said Poland had "its own identity, its own culture and its own conscience". The first baby box was set up in 1999 by a German pastor, Gabriele Stangl, after a woman who became pregnant after being raped killed and buried the child when it was born because she didn’t want to keep it. Many have drawn comparisons to the medieval "founding wheels" where unwanted babies were left in the revolving door of a church. Germany now has 100 baby boxes. Italy, Belgium and Switzerland also have the baby box system, although technically it is illegal.

Maria Herczog, a Hungarian child psychologist on the UN committee said the boxes were "a bad message for society". She said: "Instead of providing help and addressing some of the social problems and poverty behind these situations, we're telling people they can just leave their baby and run away." She said the committee was now discussing the issue with the European Parliament and was also asking countries which allow the baby box system to shut them down.

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Emanuel Paparella2012-12-10 13:44:59
All the issues above have religion at their center, all related to the national identity and heritage of the Polish people. The most facile solution is undoubtedly the inquisitorial one: prosecute religion, find it guilty, condemn it to death and eliminate it once and for all from the body politics. Voltaire would be all for that. The more arduous and complex solution is that advocated by the likes of Christopher Dawson and Carl Jung: since religion is integral part of human nature the wiser course is to study it in depth, see how it effects the culture and very identity of a particular people and eliminate egregious abuses which corrupt it and render it a cult rather than a religion.

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