An increasingly influential Polish Catholic legal institute, which has lobbied for the recent restriction of abortion rights in Poland, is considering opening an international university in Warsaw, seeking to train a new generation of conservative lawyers.
The institute, Ordo Iuris, plans to announce details of its project at an inaugural conference in Warsaw on Friday. In the documents online, he says the university, called Collegium Intermarium, will be a “space for free debate and courageous search for the truth” when it begins teaching students across the region in October.
A spokesperson said it was a counterweight to existing universities, which the group sees as overly liberal, and which currently form many of those who occupy the ranks of European institutions.
Intermarium (Latin for “between the seas”) is a historical term that refers to part of central Europe between the Baltic, Black and Adriatic seas. This is also an area where Ordo Iuris and other conservative groups have worked.
Polish culture and education ministers will speak on Friday, stressing the group’s proximity to the government, some of whose members have belonged to Ordo Iuris in the past. Other speakers include the Hungarian Minister of Justice and Vaclav Klaus, the former Czech President.
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Ordo Iuris is widely viewed with suspicion by LGBT and women’s rights groups as he pushes an agenda they see as extremist. They accuse the group of working internationally to erode the rights they have acquired over the past decades. They often cite Ordo Iuris’ efforts to block ratification by nations of the Istanbul Convention, an international treaty aimed at addressing domestic violence.
The group successfully supported an attempt to restrict abortion rights in Poland. He provided legal arguments to the Constitutional Court, which ruled last year that abortions for fetal abnormalities were unconstitutional. The result is that Polish women are now required to carry very sick or even non-viable fetuses to term – a decision which in practice pushes more women to have abortions abroad. The move sparked weeks of mass protests in the country, which already had one of the most restrictive abortion laws in Europe.
Ordo Iuris, which was founded in Poland in 2013, is part of an international conservative Catholic network known as Tradition, Family and Property (TFP), according to those who study its work and influence.
The institute has worked across the region, for example helping a Romanian group that successfully lobbied to block the legalization of same-sex unions.
Neil Datta, head of the Brussels-based European Parliamentary Forum on Sexual and Reproductive Rights who has done extensive research on Ordo Iuris, says he believes the university will become a training center “a new cadre of elites that can fundamentally transform and whitewash away – just thinking to make it appear professional and acceptable in a certain political discourse. “
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He said the plan reminds him of what happened in the United States, where the Christian right began years ago to fund universities which, over time, produced new elites with influence in the world. think tanks and politics.
“It’s a first step in the same thing,” Datta said.
Members of Ordo Iuris say the group has been unfairly portrayed by activists and the media. Spokesman Maciej Grajewski told The Associated Press ahead of this week’s conference that members of the group are unfairly portrayed as fundamentalists and “caped men who hate women.”
He called the assessment “absurd,” arguing that it works much more widely than many people think and is aimed at helping children and families and also supporting free trade.
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