„The Roman Catholic Church, in accordance with the teachings of the Second Vatican Council, will support the right of every religion to teach in freedom. […] The matter you Venerable Pastors raise will be dealt with by Council for Ecumenism of the KEP (Commission of Polish Episcopacy) at its meeting this fall. Perhaps the matter will also receive the attention of the Commission for dialogue between the PRE Polish Ecumenical Council) and the KEP, if the representatives of the PRE deem it necessary.” – wrote Bishop Jacek Jezierski of Elbląg, Chairman of the Council for Ecumenism of the KEP. His letter is in response to a letter from the Council of the New Covenant Church in Lublin regarding the trial of Pastor Pawel Chojecki, who is on trial for words including insulting the religious feelings of Catholics. The next hearing – perhaps the last – is on Monday, May 22 at 12:30 pm.
Bishop Jezierski said he had also reviewed a recording attached to the letter showing three pastors from other churches testifying as witnesses in the trial. The pastors said before the court that Pastor Chojecki’s trial acts as an intimidation against other Protestant preachers.
Elbląg, 20 May 2023
I have received from the Secretariat of the Polish Bishops’ Conference your letter of May 8 this year. It concerns Pastor Pawel Chojecki, who is defending himself in court because he was accused of insulting religious feelings. I have read the recording attached to the letter concerning the court hearing in this case.
- Pastor Pawel Chojecki’s statement is very radical. Specific Catholics could read it as an insult to their religious feelings. The pastor said that religion [by implication: Catholic] and the sacraments are dung.
- These types of terms: strong, blunt, offensive, were used in religious polemics in the 16th century.
- However, this type of wording, five hundred years after the Reformation began, is no longer used by preachers, theologians, clergy and followers of Christ in many strands of Christianity. We address each other calmly, respectfully, respecting each other’s point of view and faith, even though we do not share it.
- Every statement should show consideration for its recipients. It can be critical, but must not hurt or offend. This is out of respect for the listeners and recipients of the message.
- Freedom of speech involves responsibility for the word, at least in the personal, moral sphere, in conscience. The Roman Catholic Church, in accordance with the teachings of the Second Vatican Council, will support the right of every religion to teach in freedom.
- Standing in front of the court building, Pastor Chojecki spoke full of emotion about superstition and darkness in the nation. This is an offensive sentence, or at least an exaggerated one.
- The Roman Catholic Church cares about good relations with other churches and religious communities in Poland. It cares about friendly and fraternal relations. However, not all Christian communities today choose to participate, even minimally, in the ecumenical movement.
- Insulting others is not the mission of a Christian prophet. Such an understanding of the prophetic mission is its anachronistic understanding.
- The matter that the Venerable Pastors raise will be dealt with at its meeting this fall by the Council for Ecumenism (PRE) of the Polish Episcopacy Commission (KEP). Perhaps, the matter will also be the subject of attention of the Committee for Dialogue of the PRE and the KEP, if representatives of the PRE deem it necessary (deadline: this fall).
With best regards and Christian brotherhood
Jacek Jezierski, Bishop of Elbląg, Chairman of the Council for Ecumenism of the KEP
WATCH Pastor Chojecki’s trial LIVE – May 22, 12:30 pm!
Pastor Pawel Chojecki, pastor of the New Covenant Church in Lublin and editor-in-chief of the Go Against the Tide TV, is on trial for words spoken during sermons and statements on the television station he founded. Among other things, he was charged with insulting the religious feelings of Catholics. In the first instance, the pastor was convicted inconclusively, and an appeal is currently underway. Tomorrow, Monday, May 22, at 12:30 p.m., another – and perhaps the last – hearing will be held before the Court of Appeals in Lublin. If a verdict is rendered, there will be no further possibility of appeal in Poland.
Media representatives and all interested parties are encouraged to get involved in reporting on Pastor Chojecki’s trial and to come to the hearing in person. We also invite you to a protestants’ happening that will take place on May 22 in front of the Lublin Court of Appeals building (Lublin, 1 Obrońców Pokoju Street, 2nd Criminal Division).