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Reformed Catholic Church, represented by DZP wins registration dispute
The dispute over the registration of the Reformed Catholic Church (RCC) has been ongoing for over two years, when in July 2020 the Prosecutor General lodged an objection to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Administration to the registration of the RCC in the Register of Churches and Other Religious Associations. At the time, by way of a decision of the minister, Mr Kaminski, the organisation had already been registered for about six months. The Prosecutor General Zbigniew Ziobro assessed that the registration of the Church – due to it permitting the union of homosexual couples – put its potential members at risk of taking actions based on a mistake regarding the actual forms of religious life, the Church's operating methods, its objectives, doctrinal sources and principles and religious rites.
As a result of the Prosecutor General’s objection, on 15 September 2020, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Administration issued an administrative decision stating that the registration was invalid, citing Article 18 of the Constitution of the Republic of Poland (Marriage as a union between a man and a woman, family, motherhood and parenthood are under the protection and guardianship of the Republic of Poland). Mr Kamiński said that, on the question of marriage, the application for registration contained information contrary to the provisions of laws protecting public safety and order, health, public morality, parental authority and the fundamental rights and freedoms of others. He therefore considered that the registration decision had been taken in gross breach of the law.
In October 2020, the RCC applied to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Administration for the case to be re-examined and the decision of 15 September overturned, and the Human Rights Ombudsman joined the case. Despite this, however, the Ministry of Internal Affairs upheld the decision declaring the registration of the Rainbow Church in the Register of Churches and Other Religious Associations invalid.
In January 2021, Rafał Karbowniczek, Senior Associate, and Małgorzata Karasińska, Associate, from the Dispute Resolution Practice, acting for the RCC, filed an appeal with the Voivodship Administrative Court (VAC) in Warsaw against the above decision with a motion to suspend performance of the contested decision. Our lawyers highlighted in the appeal that the authority had not previously refused registration to religious associations that permitted polygamy, spousal inequality in marriage, or divorce by a unilateral declaration of intent by the husband. At the time, no one had objected to the entries being made in the register, even though the rules cited above were not (and are still not) reflected in the generally applicable provisions of law relevant to the above issue.
As a result of DZP’s arguments, in June 2021 the VAC in Warsaw issued a decision suspending performance of the contested decision, enabling the RCC to continue to operate
The judgment in the case was rendered on 13 October 2022 before the VAC in Warsaw. The Court overturned the Minister of Internal Affairs and Administration's decision finding that the entry in the Register of Churches and Other Religious Associations was invalid.
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