Poland’s leading Catholic bishop has spoken out in favour of an almost complete ban on shops opening on Sunday, amid growing public controversy over the proposal.
“Free Sundays are what all Catholics, non-Catholics and non-believers need,” Archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki told Polish Radio ahead of a meeting of the Bishops Conference on Friday, which is expected to support the ban.
The idea was put forward last year by the powerful Solidarity trade union, backed by a million-strong petition, and has been batted back and forth in a parliamentary subcommittee ever since.
The clerics are careful to base their argument on quality of life rather than religious grounds. “Families don’t just need financial support, they need time for themselves,” said the Archbishop of Katowice, Wiktor Skworc.
He appealed to the government to “show some compassion for women in the form of those who have to work in supermarkets on Sundays”, and accused it of showing “contempt” for Solidarity and the bishops by delaying consideration of the ban. He also warned local MPs and senators that he expected them to vote “in line with the views of their voters,” the Wirtualna Polska website reports.
The government and retail groups have suggested compromises like shutting shop every other Sunday, or only after lunch, and the rival OPZZ union confederation proposes higher wages for Sunday working, but Solidarity chief Piotr Duda is holding out for “Four free Sundays a month, full stop, end of story”, Dziennik daily reports.
I remember when Ontario ended its ban on Sunday shopping in 1990 or so, in the time leading up to it, the opposition to the overturning of the Lord’s Day Act which banned most stores from being open on Sunday came from both the Tories and the New Democrats, both Right and Left, against the Liberals.
The Right reflected the traditionalist sentiment that Sunday is the Lord’s Day, and ought to be a day of rest as commanded in God’s Word.
The Left, which still in those days actually cared about the workers, argued that workers needed a set day off.
They were both correct, and it was nice to see common cause from both left and right against the Liberals.
Alas, they lost.
But it was inspiring.
As are the bishops aligning themselves with Solidarity, the labour union that opposed communism. They represented workers against a regime that ostensibly ruled in the name of the workers.
Nice to see left and right together on this, over there. I wish them all the best, and will pray for them.