Pope Francis’s appeal to Polish people to welcome refugees into the country and to embrace EU integration may remain unanswered, according to an expert from the University of Leicester.
Dr Simona Guerra, Senior Lecturer from the University of Leicester Department of Politics and International Relations, has written an article for Think: Leicester, the University’s platform for independent academic opinion, discussing Pope Francis’s recent visit to Poland during the World Youth Day gathering to mark the 1,050th anniversary of Poland’s adoption of Christianity.
While Pope Francis appealed for people to show a merciful heart towards refugees and to welcome them into the country, Dr Guerra suggests that his call for mercy may remain unanswered due to the Polish Church and its concerns about the consequences of EU integration.
In the article Dr Guerra said, “The Polish Church has concerns on the consequences of EU integration, linked to secularization and consumerism and the focus was and is on the position of Poland towards EU integration and Polish culture and values, as the Church can successfully become both provider and defender of these values.”
Dr Guerra continued: “Pope Francis’s positions seem at odds with the local Church. In his speech at Blonia Park, he called for merciful hearts, saying: ‘A merciful heart can go out and meet others; it is ready to embrace everyone. A merciful heart is able to be a place of refuge for those who are without a home or have lost their home; it is able to build a home and a family for those forced to emigrate; it knows the meaning of tenderness and compassion. A merciful heart can share its bread with the hungry and welcome refugees and migrants. To say the word “mercy” along with you is to speak of opportunity, future, commitment, trust, openness, hospitality, compassion and dreams.”
According to Dr Guerra, “This is not a shared position by Poland, where the government has maintained a rather strict position, in particular after the terrorist attacks in Europe, and where just a few months ago, in the Spring, about 64% of Poles wanted their country’s borders closed to refugees.”
Dr Guerra noted that, “While the European Commission stressed that it is important not to confuse the refugees’ crisis with security, Poland is currently again under the spotlight, after the January Constitutional crisis, as the Commission has given a three-month notice to take action to protect the rule of law in the country, before it may launch the unprecedented Article 7 procedure.”
In the opinion of Dr Guerra, “Pope Francis’s appeals may remain unanswered, while he met with Polish bishops in private, and repeated his call for mercy before leaving on Sunday late afternoon.”