Joint Statement of Polish Organizations on the Visit of Jorge Mario Bergoglio in the European Parliament

The Signatories to this Statement object to the visit of Jorge Mario Bergoglio (Pope Francis) in the European Parliament. We consider opening this floor to a speech by the Vatican representative an approval for the ideas promoted by the leadership of the Roman Catholic Church, which remain in contradiction with the spirit and letter of international law and the law of the Union itself.

We recall, that the Roman Catholic Church repeatedly opposed European Union’s non-discrimination policy, thereby defying the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, which guarantees equal rights for women and men, and is ratified by EU member states.

We recall, that the Vatican, together with such countries as Somalia, Iran, Sudan, or Tonga, opposed the ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), passed by the United Nations General Assembly in 1979.

We recall the actions of the Roman Catholic Church in Poland against the ratification of the Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence.

We recall, that Catholic clergy imposes upon societies views which are contrary to scientific knowledge and the aspirations of an educated society, including irrational attitudes, ignorance, and obscurantism.

We recall hate speech and disparaging language employed by church leadership regarding LGBTQ persons, representatives of other denominations, and atheists.

We recall the opposition of the Catholic Church to contraception and women’s reproductive rights, which is in conflict with the definition of reproductive rights as basic human rights, as adopted by the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo and its opposition to the Beijing Declaration adopted by the UN at the end of the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995.

We recall, that the extreme conservative teaching of the Catholic Church engenders homophobic, xenophobic, and sexist attitudes.

We recall the actions of the Catholic Church curtailing civil rights and freedoms regarding freedom of conscience, speech, and expression. Such actions destructively impact development of culture, art, and science, as exemplified by the vilification of gender studies.

We regard it as a provocation, that the speech is to be given by Jorge Mario Bergoglio on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, which marks the start of 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence, culminating on International Human Rights Day, December 10. The sensibility of the increasingly enlightened society of Europe is being disregarded. While we do not deny the rights of people to hold even the most absurd opinions, we consider their affirmation by the European Parliament inconsistent with the values that guide it.

We call on the European Parliament to cancel the visit of Jorge Mario Bergolio, and should that prove impossible, we appeal to the Members of the European Parliament to boycott the session in which he would speak.

First Signatories:

Atheist Coalition
Center for Enlightenment and Rationalism
Kazimierz Lyszczynski Foundation
Freedom from Religion Foundation