A GOOD CATHOLIC INTERFERES INTO POLITICS
Anna Przewoźnik talks with a parliamentarian for the European Parliament Tadeusz Cymański about the faithfulness to the Gospel, about pro-family policy, demographic catastrophe and gender ideology
ANNA PRZEWOŹNIK: – The social teaching of the Church proclaims that the politics is one of the most sublime form of love because it serves to the common welfare. Today in Poland politicians do not rather raise positive associations. Pope Francis clearly pointed that the Catholics cannot escape from politics. The Holy Father even used the statement: ‘a good Catholic interferes into politics’. How to transfer Pope’s words into practice?
TADEUSZ CYMAŃSKI: – Pope used the word in the understanding ‘be interested and engaged’. Participation in political life is not only law but also duty of every citizen. The key issue is giving a testimony of confessed values and keeping promises given to electors. One can often feel that some values are used in a demonstrative way, and are aimed only at gaining social support. Pope’s words are important, because the Pope proves them with his attitude and engagement. Our public life has been dominated by the fight for power. Courage, that is, undertaking a risk is a rare thing. The fact that the present Pope, in an exceptional way touches what is a measure of our life, that is, faithfulness to the Gospel, is a clear indication to – I think the most important – question: ‘What did you do for one of my littlest brothers’ (see Mt 25.40). This perspective, this context should be present in our political proceedings, in public life, in professional work and certainly, in family.
– One of the key issues for Your party is the issue of the demographic catastrophe…
– Exactly, it cannot be called differently than catastrophe! It is said that in 2060 we will be the oldest society in the European Union! Repeating after the leading demographer of Poland, prof. Marek Okólski, at present in Poland 100 people at the productive age keep about 30 people at post-productive age. On the one hand, we have a very low birth rate caused by instable situation in the employment market, on the other hand – a mass migration. Both factors negatively influence the demographic situation in Poland, and what it entails – is an economic situation.
– What pro-family propositions does Solidary Poland have?
– Reform of pro-family policy is difficult, long-term and, therefore, unpopular. It hardly interest populist politicians of the Civic Platform, who act myopically. We speak clearly and consistently. The economic situation of the family is important for us, as well as flats for young people, access for kindergartens, nurseries. Children are not only a difficulty, but also an expenditure, therefore, we pay attention to a very important issue which is financial support of the family by the state. Family benefit in Poland is 77 zlotys for younger and 109 zlotys for older children. This extremely symbolic help is additionally fortified by the income criterion, according to which the limit is 549 zlotys per a person in the family. It is a shame and disgrace! This situation is a consequence of neglects of all governing teams for years, for a period of 25 years from the breakthrough.
– The scale of emigration of young Poles is also dramatic. What will You say to young people in order to keep them in the country?
– When I meet young people, I see their great disappointment, they are either discouraged and depressed or angry. High unemployment or illegal work or poorly-paid work. Young people are victims of exploitation and lack of support from the state. During meetings, I encourage them not to favour this or that party, but to think, have a critical attitude and to act! We can change Poland together – but the essential condition is rebuilding trustfulness to politicians.
– Solidary Poland still reminds that Poland is not a rich country, but not poor either. Isn’t it an exaggerated optimism? In the recently published report the European Committee of Social Matters reprimanded Poland for too long queues to doctors, for too low unemployment benefit and unbeneficial changes concerning rights for this benefit.
– Solidary Poland says about the need of creating a reliable country. I understand solidary as a community of actions and interests expressed by: suitable tax system, children’s benefits, an easy access to health care. The measure of democratic development of the country is the development level of social insurances towards the weakest groups of citizens: children, elderly people, ill and disabled people. Solidary Poland proposes ambitious but realistic solutions. We put the main pressure on demographic policy. Children are not only an insurance of pension systems in the future – these are also employment places and demand on the market. Whereas there are less and less children and an enormous number of them live in poverty. Our proposals do not result from an exaggerated optimism, but a cool evaluation of the situation.
– You often emphasize that Poland can learn a lot from Europe in the issues of social insurances of the family. Could you give any particular examples?
– Examples of the pro-family policy are France and Scandinavian countries: free kindergartens, high tax relieves, long maternal and paternal leaves and direct support in the form of significant family benefits! I think that today Poland can afford more help to the family. Our bread is shared in an unfair way. We have enclaves of wealth. Consumption of luxurious good is growing in a pace of a few hundred percent every year. Our country delaminates. It was not prevented by any party and this process must be first stopped and later reversed. Differences are everywhere in the world, but it is happening bad if they are changing into disproportions and contrasts. In Poland it is time to say about elementary humanitarian principles because there are more and more children in our country who are undernourished and live below biological minimum.
– What do you think about the idea of the Prime Minister and Education Minister: one textbook for children of the first grade; isn’t there the so-called trap in this project?
– Everything which can relieve parents is worth attention and support. However, the issue is more complex and I understand it as propaganda and pre-electoral move. It is a hardly reliable and partial idea. And what about children of the second, third and fourth grades, students of junior high schools, secondary schools? Sets of books cost fortune. Who will edit such a textbook and what content will there be in it? The Platform is making other mistakes and is governing in a wrong way. The Prime Minister has promised a lot and has not kept any word. We must remember about this all also in the context of these new promises about textbooks.
– The Parliamentary Team ‘Stop to gender ideology’ was established from the initiative of Solidary Poland. What is the purpose of the team if representatives of the government consistently state that gender ideology does not endanger Poland?
– It is the devil issue. We can just listen to argumentation presented in media aimed at smuggling and introducing a poisoned idea into the social awareness which assumes that sexes are a creation of culture, socialization, upbringing, influence of the Church, etc. It opens a path to relativization of marriage institution, promotes homosexual couples, legalizes couples of the same-sex people. As Christians, we have to defend ourselves against this ideology, with some respect to adversaries and with high vigilance. Our purpose is to be aware of the power of the enemy and defend our civilization. We are dealing with an evident attack on the family, so we should create one frontier – only then we will effectively defend ourselves.
– Decisions in ideological and economic issues concerning Poland are mostly made in the European Parliament. Soon we will elect euro-deputies. Is it the reason for which Solidary Poland has opened its offices in Silesia?
– Here I must give an explanation. Solidary Poland is a new party. Like on a market, in trade, in production – also in politics it is very hard to gain independence, especially when a party has grants from the state budget. On the area of the Silesian province we do not have any euro-deputy or an MP, therefore, in the nearest elections we must, following logics, suggest the most powerful politicians in such an economically and demographically powerful region. Therefore it was decided that I should be a candidate just in this region. It is also essential that I am a member of the Commission for Environment Protection, that is, this body in whose forum there are discussions about energetics, matters extremely important for Poland, especially for Silesia. On the area of the province we opened a few parliamentary offices, we are succeeding in developing offices of Solidary Poland in Katowice, Jastrzębie-Zdrój, Sosnowiec and Częstochowa. Within our activity we give, among the others, free legal advice which, as we observe, are very necessary. I come from northern part of Poland, I live in Malbork, I had been a mayor there for 8 years. Now I am dealing with problems of the Silesian region. I am applying for mandate and representation of Silesia in the European Parliament, but how it will be, depends on public activity in the local Self-government, in the Sejm and in Euro-Parliament I was consistently applying for more fair and solidary country especially in the sphere of pro-family policy, and I hope Solidary Poland will realize this policy.