Opposition leader calls for separation of church and state

Lech Muszyński/PAP

Donald Tusk, the leader of Poland's main opposition party, Civic Platform (PO), has said there has to be a separation of Church and state.

Tusk, who was also a prime minister, said that PO would do this straight away if it won the next general election.

"There is no other path than an unambiguous - to be carried out immediately after winning elections - process of separating the Church from the state with all the effects of that," Tusk said while meeting the public on Friday in the north-west city of Stargard.

He added that a time had come when "a separation has occurred of the Church from society."

"However, there is no doubt that responsibility falls upon the Church rather than on society," Tusk said. "Believers are the victim and not the perpetrators of this situation."

Tusk also criticised the presence of Church figures in positions of power. "I'm talking here about an important part of the clergy, bishops, not to mention such apparatchiks as (Father Tadeusz - PAP) Rydzyk," he said.

Highlighting that until the end of May he remains leader of the European People's Party faction in the European Parliament, which he described as "Christian democracy," Tusk said he personally had "no cause for joy seeing the separation of the Church from society."