KANSAS CITY, Mo. (BP)–The burial of Poland’s president, Lech Kaczynski, in Krakow on April 18 was met by mourning not only among Polish citizens and international diplomats, but also within the pro-life movement.
Kaczynski, a Roman Catholic, was “an outstanding leader for pro-life, pro-marriage, and pro-family issues in Europe,” said Janice Shaw Crouse of Concerned Women for America.
“He stood strong for Judeo-Christian values in the face of intense opposition from European Union leaders,” Crouse said in a news release after Kaczynski, his wife Maria and 94 other Polish leaders were killed in a plane crash April 10. The group was en route to a ceremony commemorating the Katyn Forest massacre 60 years earlier in which Soviet secret police killed more than 20,000 officers and civic leaders of Poland who had been taken into western Russia.
R. Philip Roberts, president of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Mo., who was in Poland at the time of the air tragedy, concurred that Kaczynski was “clearly 100 percent pro-life.”
“It was very obvious in everything he did, said and fought for that he maintained that position,” Roberts told Baptist Press.
“He was what many politicians would call ‘on the right’ side in his political positions, and what some would call ‘far right.’ I think he was ‘right on’ in terms of his own personal moral values, and what he wanted to see Poland do as a nation.”
Kaczynski also was “suspicious of the moral social agenda of the European Union,” Roberts said, referring to the left-leaning league of 27 European countries, including Poland.
“While Poland moved in the direction of joining the European Union, he [Kaczynski] was also concerned about the possibility of the devolution of the moral values for the country if they went along with everything the European Union wanted done,” Roberts said.
Concerning Poland’s break from communism through the 1980s Solidarity movement, Roberts noted that Kaczynski “was involved in Solidarity from the beginning. He taught law at the University of Gdansk where the Solidarity movement began. He was a consultant with Lech Walesa, and fought tenaciously for the rights of the Solidarity movement and for the eventual introduction of democracy into the life of Poland.”
Roberts described Kaczynski as “a very staunch, rigorous traditional Roman Catholic. That was his tradition, where he stood, and that’s where his moral values were. I had no personal awareness that, as we would understand it as Baptists, he trusted Jesus as his Lord and Savior, although I’m sure he would argue and maintain that he did.
“The difficulty there,” Roberts said, “is that in the Catholic understanding of salvation, you can’t really have assurance of salvation. You have to be dependent on the life of the church and your participation in the sacraments in order to provide that for you.”
Roberts also described Kaczynski as “a strong family man. He and his wife had a very good relationship. Over the past weekend, they showed pictures of him and his wife that portrayed his obvious commitment to her. He was a good father. They had one daughter, and obviously she was quite distraught by his death. He and his brother [Jaroslaw, a former prime minister of Poland] were very close as well. They were identical twins who were born about 45 minutes apart. They lived most of their lives in close cooperation together and held similar values.”
Art Toalston is editor of Baptist Press; T. Patrick Hudson is director of communications at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Mo.