Warsaw pleads for God’s help

On Jan. 10, after a long debate, God was included in the Statute of the Polish capital. The reference to God in a Statute preamble received the approval of 38 members of the council, while 13 abstained from voting.

The controversial passage of the preamble reads: “?trusting that in service to our city we will not lack strength and determination, whose source is faith in God to many of us, and to all – faith in the profound significance of public service?”
The preamble was proposed by members of governing party Civic Platform (PO), most notably Warsaw Mayor Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz. She was the most prominent initiator and defendant of the preamble. Her opinion was supported by Law and Justice (PiS) politicians.

Her opponents were city councilors from the parties included in Left and Democrats (LiD).

Piotr Guzial from Social Democracy of Poland (SdPl) told the newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza Stoleczna: “The Statute is not a document of such major importance as to begin with a baroque preface. Why should God himself be mingled into the relationship between the city authorities and the districts?”

“Such a pompous preamble is completely unnecessary,” added Marek Rojszykfrom of the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD). “We wanted to take it out, but we were outvoted.”

Warsaw’s mayor argued that Polish Catholics have a right to publicly express their beliefs in the City Council as much as in any other place.

“Christian values are mentioned in the Polish Constitution,” Gronkiewicz-Waltz told Gazeta Wyborcza Stoleczna. “I happen to share (German Chancellor) Angela Merkel’s opinion that they should also appear in the Constitution of the EU.”

To the arguments of LiD’s politicians, she answered that they should be more open and tolerant. “I do not understand why it is always me that should show tolerance towards others but never the other way around.”

The Statute is a document defining the duties of different levels of local government in the Polish capital.
Its creation took the council a year.

The Statute increased the responsibilities of 18 district mayors by entrusting to them such matters as schools, streets and small investments. The Warsaw mayor and her office will tackle the city’s major policies and projects, such as the underground (subway) and Euro 2012.

Eventually, the document was accepted, with the 38 councilors (including LiD) voting for and 14 abstaining.
As a symbol of their “appreciation” for the only city statute in Poland containing a reference to God, young members of LiD awarded Gronkiewicz-Waltz a kneeling chair.

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