Thursday, June 18, 2009

Uproar in Poland as Pop Diva Madonna Schedules Concert for Catholic Holy Day

By Peter J. Smith

WARSAW, June 16, 2009 ( – American pop-singer Madonna has generated a firestorm of controversy in Poland by scheduling her performance in Warsaw to coincide with a solemn religious feast honoring the Virgin Mary in the predominately Catholic nation.

Madonna brings her "Sticky & Sweet" tour, the eighth concert tour for the “Queen of Pop,” to Warsaw’s Bemowo Airport, on August 15, the day on which the Catholic Church celebrates the solemn Marian feast of the Assumption. On that day thousands of Poles traditionally make a pilgrimage to a Marian shrine known as the “Black Madonna” sanctuary in Jasna Gora, which is meant to honor the Virgin Mary, who is popularly credited with having delivered Poland from many crises in the nation’s history.

Madonna, a lapsed Catholic whose real name is Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone, garnered similar outrage for her 2006 “Confessions Tour,” in which the pop diva opened her act appearing crucified, descending from a suspended mirrored cross. Madonna’s performance in Rome had prompted calls from Church hierarchy for her excommunication (see coverage). This performance is likewise being taken as a direct affront to Poland’s cultural and religious identity.

"The concert of a highly perverse singer who calls herself ‘Madonna’ is deeply humiliating to Warsaw residents and Poles in general," said parliamentarian Marian Budzynski, a member of the opposition Law and Justice party, who wrote a letter to the mayor of Warsaw, Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz, asking for her intervention.

"August 15 is a symbolic date. It's not a coincidence that Madonna booked that day for her concert in Poland. It's a provocation,” said Budzynski. “She was aware we were not going to just sit and pretend nothing happened, she knew very well how offensive this would be to us."

In 2006, Madonna had inflamed Poles by having her face appear on the cover of the Polish magazine, Machina, parodying the Black Madonna of Czestochowa.

"It's not a problem for me to go to a concert on a holy day, but the fact that on a Marian holiday somebody planned a concert of a star, who is so provocative and blasphemous, is a devil's trick,” stated Jan Pospieszalski, a well known musician, journalist, and host of the weekly show Warto Rozmawiaæ. Pospieszalski stated the protests were coming too late, since approval for the concert had been given six months ago. He added, “For me, mass culture which has to support itself with transgressions, breaking taboos, is just too boring and predictable.”

Polish External Radio Service reported the remarks of two young persons, Agnieszka and Mariuz, both under 30, who speculated that the pop-star in engaging in a deliberate religious provocation to shore up a flagging career.

“She's just an old, pitiful lady, desperately looking for attention. Artistically, she has nothing original to offer. She should really make space for some young, talented artists,” said Agnieszka. “And if she's so brave and provocative, why doesn't she go to some Muslim country and try to offend their religion?”

Mariuz added, “She made a career offending Christians and getting naked in front of other people, which is easy when you are young. But over decades, she hasn't come up with any new ideas. My advice to this pathetic lady is: get out of our country, go back where you belong.”

Polish Radio reports that various Catholic groups have launched protests and are organizing a boycott against Madonna's Warsaw performance.

Patryk Tryzubiak of, a major auction website which sponsors the concert, says the organizers are going to go ahead with their plans anyway. “We should remember that the majority in Poland are Catholic, but we will not resign because of some protests,” responded Tryzubiak.
Although a law exists in Poland against promoting blasphemy and offending Christian symbols, in practice it is rarely enforced. However, a boycott of advertisers supporting the Madonna concert is underway.

Polish conservative organizer Anna Olasik, of, threw her support behind a boycott campaign, stating that those efforts have worked in the United States and are beginning to gain traction in Poland.

“When we regained freedom twenty years ago, we took it for granted that the traditional values we were used to - rights of families, family values in general - would be protected and respected. But it turned out not to be the case,” Olasik told Polish Radio. “I am very optimistic. I can see that people are joining our association and they see that when we act together, we can make a difference, we can still be the same Poland we used to be during John Paul II's times.”

See related coverage by

Cardinal Calls for Madonna’s Excommunication: Pop Star’s Mock Crucifixion an “Open Act of Hostility”

NBC TV to Air “Blasphemous” Madonna Mock Crucifixion Stunt


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