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Torun. Controversial retreat, ELO group apologizes

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“We apologize to everyone who was scandalized by what happened during the retreat in the church in Toruń as part of the scene distributed through the media,” wrote representatives of the ELO evangelization group. They organized in the parish of pw. st. Maksymilian Kolbe’s performance, fragments of which were published on social media.

On Friday evening, the Lichen Evangelization Center “Kecharitomene” – in short the ELO group – published a statement on social media in which it referred to the controversial retreat organized in the parish of St. st. Maximilian Kolbe in Toruń. The youth apologized to “all those who were scandalized” in the message, explaining the intentions behind the organization of the controversial performance.

Read also: A naked woman and vulgar insults at a retreat. The organizers were at a dress rehearsal, “the scene was played more gently”

Earlier, videos with the most controversial scenes from the retreat, which took place on March 27, went to social media. The curia reacted to them and Children’s Rights Ombudsmanas well as parliamentarians and non-governmental organizations. The recordings show, among others, a half-naked girl whose man puts on a collar, drags her through the temples and calls her “rag”. There were several high school students in the church at the time.

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ELO: preaching about sin is an essential element of evangelism

As the representatives of the ELO group underlined, by issuing a statement they do not want to “in any way whitewash or resign from responsibility”, but to “clarify their intentions and refer to events”.

Read also: Shocking retreat in Toruń. “Violence is always wrong. It cannot be promoted”

The staging itself was part of a larger project called ‘The Cage’, which has been a popular evangelistic concept for many years. It presents a modernized figure of Mary Magdalene, whom Jesus frees, enters the cage instead of her, and finally wins over sin, i.e. rises from the dead. An important element of evangelization is preaching about sin, which insults man and makes him a slave. They add that they wanted to convey the next day that this is their “personal testimony of freedom from sin. Freedom possible only thanks to Jesus – His giving his life for each of us.”

Members of the ELO group emphasize that “sin is undoubtedly a controversial topic in today’s world, and we ourselves often want to silence our conscience by trivializing it. Hence the strong and distinctive message to emphasize the seriousness of the evil of sin and what sin looks like in real life.” They also pointed out that they themselves are not much older than the students for whom they prepared the performance. “We remember very well what we and our close friends struggled with at their age” – wrote the authors of the show.

Read also: He pressed himself to the desk and shouted because the student “refused to color the picture”. Charge against the priest

“We know that what outraged everyone was undoubtedly the eloquent naturalism of the scene and the fact that it took place in a church in this form. We would like to assure you that the tone of the entire staging was completely different than this cut-out, less than 30-second fragment of the three-hour meeting” – we read in a statement published on social media.

The ELO group noted that its members are in contact with “the relevant church authorities and are ready to accept any responsibility arising from the situation”.

Statement of the ELO group after the retreat in ToruńELO group

Fr. Kieniewicz: blaming the performers of the scene is far from right

Earlier, the Toruń curia announced in a statement that the ELO group had been removed from conducting retreat classes. Father Paweł Borowski, spokesman for the curia, he argued that the organizers of the Toruń Youth Meeting had not been informed by the leaders beforehandthat they are planning to reach for a staging that raises justifiable objections”.

Fr. Piotr Kieniewicz, spokesman for the Congregation of Marian Fathers in Licheń, where the ELO group operated in the past, points out, however, that “blaming the performers of the scene with all the blame is far from right”.

– The organizer knew the script and was a participant in the dress rehearsal. Also, the organizer decided – contrary to the ELO group – to organize the retreat in the church, and not in the sports hall, as previously planned. The claim that the organizer did not know anything – as stated in the curia’s statement – is simply untrue, said Kieniewicz in an interview with tvn24.pl journalists.

In turn, the spokesman of the curia points out that yes, the organizers saw the dress rehearsal, but then the controversial scene “did not have such a form, it was played more gently, there were no such elements”. – As Father Mariusz (Wojnowski, organizer of the retreat – ed.) said, probably the participants of the performance were carried away by emotions. Suddenly so many people were watching them – says Fr. Borowski.

The scene has gone too far. Will and who will be responsible?

Fr. Kieniewicz admitted that although the scene “went a bit too far”, it is “an element taken out of context that is very important”. – It was a kind of commentary on the eighth chapter of the Gospel of St. John, who speaks of an adulterous woman. This Gospel was read that day in churches, the priest emphasized.

A spokesman for the curia has not yet announced whether and who will be held responsible for the controversial scene. The school board of education sees no grounds for intervention – unlike Joanna Scheuring-Wielgus, a member of the Left, who announced that she would submit a notification to the prosecutor’s office regarding the Toruń retreat. A similar announcement was made by the Monitoring Center for Racist and Xenophobic Behavior.

In turn, Tomasz Terlikowski, a Catholic journalist and publicist, appeals for consequences in church structures.

“The splendid diocesan curia of Toruń (it’s not a joke, that’s how it is officially addressed to the curia) decided that – in order to stop the media hype and scandal – it could lie and blame young people. They – as Father Kieniewicz admits – could have crossed some boundaries, but they did not decide that this scene should take place in the temple, they did not accept the script, they did not later deviate from the truth. is important, then someone – priests, not laymen – should bear the consequences. And the young people from the ELO team and the public should be apologized. Officially and without deception, “commented Terlikowski on social media.

Main photo source: ELO, Center for Monitoring Racist and Xenophobic Behavior

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