Prof. Bogdan Chazan, referring to the clause of conscience refused to do abortion. Media discourage the doctor from worship and faith, although he had a right to this attitude and attempts of restricting him are at least obscene

We have often dealt with a media arguments recently. The Faith Declaration signed by 3 thousand doctors and students of medicine, was considered as an attack on freedom by some people, whereas it concerns something completely different. After all, nobody in Poland forces anybody to go to church on Sunday. If it was different, the opinion that we live in a religious state would be justified. Moreover, nobody forces anybody to live according to the rules written on the flags of Catholics ethics. However, is this situation tantamount to a possibility of forcing the Catholics to behave in contradiction with their rules? If in the first case a religious state was a danger, then in the second case would concern the pure totalitarianism.

God’s law over the statutory law

Let’s return to the ancient times for a while. The Christians used to practise sacraments and create law regulating their social life in the Church. In no way was it in contradiction with the secular law and their duties towards the state. If something was a cause for disagreement, it was rather the attitude of Caesars who were persecuting believers of Christ, and as the sign of loyalty towards the state they demanded from the believers to reject the sign of the cross. Not earlier than in the year 313 the Milan edict was proclaimed under which Christianity did not become a dominating religion at all, as some people think, but it hardly started to be tolerated.

Would the Milan edict be helpful today? In some sense it would. For we return to the ancient history, as if conquests of culture and civilization stopped existing or influence our thinking about the conscience. But we can quote an example of Antigone by Sophocles for whom conscience was over the authority constituted by the man.

In this place it is worth mentioning outrage of politicians who criticized other politicians because they had demanded acknowledgement of the superiority of God’s law over the human law. We could quote a fragment from the Acts of the Apostles in which it is clearly said that ‘we must listen to God more than people’ (Acts of the Apostles 5.29). However, it will not convince non-believers although it should help them understand the Catholics. Undoubtedly, for the first and the latter ones a clear suggestion in this described dilemma can be an example of the Nazis who referred to the statutory law during the Nuremberg Trials, but they were sentenced on the basis of the superior law – the natural law.

Is it really Catho – land?

Beside the case of prof. Chazan, the clause of conscience became the subject of the disputes in Poland, in relation to signing the Faith Declaration by doctors. These disputes are inscribed in the basic moral debates, dividing the modern civilization, and concern such phenomena as abortion, in vitro or contraception.

However, let’s say honestly: do we really deal with medical treatment in reference to the above-mentioned praxis? After all, although the in vitro procedure gives a chance to give birth to a child, from the point of view of Catholic doctors it is wicked and does not treat infertility at all. It is also difficult to say about abortion or contraceptive means that they are a form of medical treatment. So, why is such a loud cry of some groups, that doctors signing the document suggested by dr. Wanda Poltawska are disloyal to their vocation?

Listening to the clamor of media, we should realize the fact that the clause of conscience is recognized (in art. 10 par. 2) by the Charter of Basic Rights of the European Union. It is also stipulated (in reference to abortion, euthanasia or any actions which could cause death of an embryo or fetus) by the provision no 1763 of the Parliamentary Meeting of the European Council – about Right to the conscience opposition within legal medical care from 7 October 2010. In most European democratic countries the clause of conscience - mostly in reference to abortion - is regulated by acts and also ethical codes of medical jobs. However, the issue of the clause of conscience among pharmacists remains in question. Certainly In question In the formal sense – pharmacists consider not only a possibility of not selling medicaments but also the assortment of chemist’s which in reference to some ‘medicaments’ is wicked. In the Declaration of the support of the right to opposition of conscience for pharmacists we read: ‘Every pharmacist or an owner of a chemist’s should (…) have freedom of choice in reference to the sale of those means as well as having them in one’s own chemist’s’. However, can we force them to have a different situation? If so, then in what country do we live?


"Niedziela" 25/2014

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: