University refutes dissident priest's 'politicisation' claim

The Catholic University of Lublin (KUL) has hit back at claims by one of its former academics that it has become politicised and has become hostile to people critical of the Catholic Church.

In an interview for the Catholic magazine Wiez published earlier this week, Rev. Alfred Wierzbicki, a lecturer in ethics and philosophy, announced he had left the university.

"I have come to understand that KUL no longer enables me to seek the truth in freedom," Wierzbicki said. "What's worse, I don't feel safe there when I raise problems concerning the condition of the Church."

The teacher also said that KUL was coming under pressure from the current education minister, Przemyslaw Czarnek, also a teacher at the university and member of the conservative ruling party Law and Justice (PiS).

The Wierzbicki case has been seen by some as emblematic of a growing divide in the Polish Catholic Church between liberals and conservatives, and the apparent attempts by the government to encourage and foster conservative attitudes in educational institutes.

The priest, a long-time head of the Ethics Chair at KUL, faced disciplinary proceedings at the university for his public criticism of the Polish Catholic Church's approach to the LGBT community, which he said was being persecuted while the Church was not doing enough to prevent homophobia in Polish parishes.

Wierzbicki was cleared, but handed in his resignation on June 10, according to KUL spokesman, Robert Szwed.

"The proposal has been accepted by the university authorities," Szwed said. "In line with his request, the employment contract was terminated... on September 30."

The spokesman also refuted Wierzbicki's claims that the university has become involved in current politics.

"The opinions on alleged politicisation are the subjective assessments of their authors," Szwed said. "In line with its statutes, KUL neither supports nor promotes any political groups nor does it impose any views on those issues."