Maja Czarnecka hyped in a Monday item for AFP that unnamed "experts" predict that Pope Francis "will have a hard time winning over hearts and minds" in Poland due to the legacy of Pope John Paul II. Czarnecka played up that "howls of criticism -- and even hate speech -- went up in ethnically homogenous, conservative Poland when the Catholic faithful saw Francis washing the feet of three Muslim asylum seekers during Easter celebrations in Italy." The journalist repeatedly emphasized the supposedly "arch-conservative" and "rightwing" climate among Catholics in the country.
Czarnecka led her item, "Pope Francis faces tepid welcome in migrant-wary Poland," by juxtaposing how a "portrait of Pope Francis hanging in Warsaw's St. Saviour Church is flanked by another, much larger one, showing the smiling late Polish-born pontiff and saint, John Paul II. In Poland, Karol Wojtyla is still 'The Pope'." She continued with her citation of her anonymous "experts" and their take on Poles' reaction to the Argentinian pontiff.
The AFP journalist continued by underlining that "while Poland shunned refugees over alleged security risks amid Europe's worst migration crisis since World War II, Francis encouraged open doors and charity for those fleeing conflict -- regardless of their faith." She didn't mention that the risks aren't just "alleged," as refugees have perpetrated recent terrorist attacks elsewhere in Europe — including a mass stabbing/slashing attack by an Afghan migrant in neighboring Germany.
Czarnecka then dropped her "hate speech" reference about the Pope's washing of feet, and quoted Ignacy Dudkiewicz, whom she identified as "an editor for the Kontakt magazine, focused on progressive young Catholics in Warsaw." Dudkiewicz bemoaned how Pope Francis has apparently "been dragged through the mud because of his position on refugees." Several paragraphs later, she piggybacked on this lament by highlighting conspiracy theories about the current Bishop of Rome and stance of the Polish hierarchy towards him:
Arch-conservative Catholic journalists have gone so far as to question the legitimacy of his election, even accusing Francis of wanting to destroy the Church. Senior Polish clerics have stopped short of condemning such views.
One rightwing conspiracy website accuses Francis of "selling out to environmentalists, Freemasons, Islamists, pseudo-refugee invaders".
"What nerve to require each parish to host an Arab refugee, while also saying that Catholics should not procreate like rabbits."...
"Bishops here formally support the pontiff's message of hosting refugees, but they do so without much conviction," notes Dudkiewicz.
The AFP correspondent also boosted a sociologist's critiques of the bishops in Poland:
"[The Church in Poland] isn't inclined to follow Francis's return to a 'Church of the poor', as was the case during the first centuries of Christianity, without purple robes and limousines, without luxury apartments," says Pawel Boryszewski, a sociologist of religion...."A bishop in Poland -- he's a god," he adds. "It's no wonder the Polish Church prefers to keep quiet and wait until this pontificate is over."
Francis's progressive views on contraception -- which he dubbed "not an absolute evil" -- and allowing divorcees to receive communion have also long sparked mixed feelings among conservative faithful here.
Near the end of her article, Czarnecka asserted that "while the late Polish pontiff [John Paul II] focused his energies on providing spiritual guidance to his countrymen as they peacefully overthrew communism, Francis has a more universal mission as he meets young Catholics from around the globe." Of course, she overlooked the fact that canonized pontiff was the most traveled in history, and founded World Youth Day — the very event that his successor, Pope Francis, is attending in Poland.