By Thaddeus M. Baklinski
KATOWICE, Poland, February 2, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The Catholic weekly magazine. Gosc Niedzielny (Sunday Visitor), published by the Archdiocese of Katowice in southern Poland, and which became famous last year after its editor was fined for calling abortion “killing,” just became the country's best-selling weekly. The magazine has just surpassed the leftist publication Polityka, which held the monopoly on #1 selling weekly for over 20 years.
Puls Biznesu (Business Pulse), a major business daily, reported that while other major weeklies have been losing readership rapidly over the past year, mostly as a result of the current financial crisis, Gosc Niedzielny has seen its readership steadily increase. At the turn of 2010, the magazine overtook Polityka with a circulation surpassing 150,000.
Puls Biznesu went on to predict that the Catholic magazine may continue to grow in popularity as more advertising revenue is generated once the news of their first place ranking becomes widely known.
The editor-in-chief of Gosc Niedzielny, Fr. Marek Gancarczyk, made headlines last year when he was fined and ordered to print a court-dictated apology for calling abortion “killing” in his magazine.
Fr. Gancarczyk lost a court case brought against him by Alicja Tysiac, a woman who had previously won a "wrongful birth" suit against the Polish government at the European Court for Human Rights because she was refused an abortion.
Poland permits abortion only in cases of rape, serious handicap in the baby, or serious health risk to the mother.
Subsequent to the European Court's ruling, Fr. Gancarczyk published an editorial condemning the court's decision, saying, "In consequence, Ms. Tysiac will receive 25,000 euro damages, plus the costs of proceedings, for not being able to kill her child. In other words, we are living in a world where a mother is granted an award for the fact that she very much wanted to kill her child, but was forbidden to do so."
This precipitated the suit by Ms. Tysiac against both Fr. Gancarczyk and Gosc Niedzielny.
When asked whether the law suit against him by Ms. Tysiac negatively influenced the magazine's sales results, Fr. Gancarczyk told LifeSiteNews.com (LSN), "No, definitely not. We can most certainly say that the trial had no negative effect on the sales results of Gosc Niedzielny. Actually, we could say that the overall influence of the court case was more positive than negative. For sure, as a result of the court verdict, our title became universally recognized. And this allowed us to start existing on a much bigger scale, not just in Poland, but also in the international public opinion."
Asked how he would explain the rising popularity of a Catholic newspaper faithful to the teaching of the Church, in a country that, according to the mainstream media, is supposed to be losing faith, Fr. Gancarczyk answered, "Of course there are opinions that Poland is getting more and more secular and that people are leaving the Church - such opinions often appear in the mainstream media. But this is not what reality looks like.
"Of course, the Church has its problems in Poland, but the core of faithful, practicing Catholics remains solid and stable. And for us at Gosc Niedzielny, our ambition is to reach first of all regularly practicing Catholics. By producing a decent quality weekly, we achieve that goal."
Commenting that Gosc Niedzielny has never shied away from controversy for fear of alienating those who may be offended by the truth, Fr. Gancarczyk said, "We try to describe the world as it is. Catholic media sometimes have this flaw that they tend to write about a world which does not exist, they sweeten reality up a bit. We try to write about real problems in the real world."
An example of this is Fr. Gancarczyk's refusal to publish the court-mandated apology to Alicja Tysiac, saying this would require him to state a misrepresentation of the facts and that Gosc Niedzielny would continue to publish the truth about abortion.
Fr. Gancarczyk then went on to explain that the magazine not only holds the spiritual and moral values which the Catholic Church, but seeks to convey to its readers a sense of pride in being Catholic and belonging to the Church.
'It's much more than not being ashamed to be Catholic, or not apologizing for Catholicism. I would like us to feel pride of being Catholic and belonging to the Church. I would like this message to be somehow subtly conveyed on every page of Gosc Niedzielny," Fr. Gancarczyk said.
"Of course, we also have to be humble. But we must not be ashamed. We need to be proud to be members of the Church, to be able to represent the Church as it is, with all its faults and sins, but still a Church that is holy."
See related LSN coverage:
Polish Priest Fined for Comparing Abortion to Holocaust, Saying Abortion is "Killing"
European Court Orders Pro-Life Poland to Compensate Mom Who Was Denied Abortion
Polish Woman takes Case to European Court of Human Rights for being Refused Abortion