Polish Protestant prosecuted over criticism on Catholicism


Central Europe


According to the pastor, the charges brought against him are politically motivated. Photo Against the Tide TV

A Protestant pastor from Poland will hear on Monday whether he will face punishment for insulting Roman Catholicism. According to the pastor, the charges are politically motivated.

A court case that has been ongoing for over four years will likely end on Monday. Poland’s Pawel Chojecki, pastor of the New Covenant Church in Lublin, will then hear the verdict on his statements during services and television programs.

Polish prosecutors accuse Chojecki of various forms of insult. According to Polish media, Chojecki allegedly called the Catholic Church a prostitute, the Polish people a pagan and President Duda a traitor. Chojecki is known in his country as someone who does not shy away from a strong language.

His remarks did not serve several Catholics and therefore reported it to the prosecutor’s office. The prosecutor investigated the matter and decided to prosecute. Initially, the pastor was sentenced to a fine and community service. However, both parties appealed. The prosecutor demands a prison sentence, while Chojecki insists on his innocence and wants an acquittal.


The “patriotic Polish” television station Against the Tide TV, of which Mr. Chojecki is the editor-in-chief, suggests it is a political trial by calling the prosecutor’s office a Law and Justice prosecutor’s office. According to Chojecki, he is only doing what he is called for. “My only ‘crime’ is that I succeeded in preaching the gospel in Poland. And for this ‘crime’ –if Poland considers it a crime– I am ready to suffer any consequences.”

Mr. Chojecki during a hearing. Photo Against the Tide TV

Poland’s Blasphemy Law is controversial. Lawyers argue that it is excessively vague, not stating what actions count as “offending religious feelings,” leading some to call for repeal of the law. Since Poland is predominantly Catholic, most cases concern critique towards Roman Catholicism. Furthermore, Polish law makes insulting the president a crime punishable by up to three years in prison.


During the hearings, supporters of Mr. Chojecki gathered in front of the court in Lublin. Among his supporters were two members of parliament: Artur Dziambor from the Libertarian Party and Pawel Szramka from the liberal Good Movement. Both MPs believe Mr. Chojecki should be acquitted. “I promise that I will strive to ensure that the article that talks about insulting religious feelings (Article 196 of the Penal Code) and other articles about state intervention where there is a civil sphere, to be deleted from Polish law”, Dziambor said.

Although the pastor himself will not attend the verdict on Monday –he will be in the United States by then– he hopes his supporters will be present. “We want everyone, regardless of their religion, to be able to speak freely about their beliefs. We are going for freedom!”



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