Poland’s Parliament has approved a bill aimed at abolishing Sunday shopping throughout the nation so that workers can spend more time with their families. The measure, passed by the Sejm (equivalent to the U.K.’s House of Commons), would initially limit Sunday shopping to the first and last Sunday of the month through 2018, restrict it to the last Sunday of each month through 2019, and totally ban Sunday shopping beginning in 2020. As written, the law will still allow shopping on Sundays before major holidays such as Christmas, and will exempt such businesses as bakeries and online shops.
The bill must now be passed by the Senate and approved by President Andzrej Duda in order to become law.
The measure was initially proposed by Poland’s trade unions, and was quickly endorsed by the ruling Law and Justice Party.
CBN News noted that Poland “is among the last European countries to hold on to its Christian heritage. Abortion and homosexual marriage are still forbidden in the country of 38 million, which is predominately Catholic.” The faith-based news site explained that Poland’s move to make Sunday a day of rest is, in part, based upon the biblical admonition that like God, who rested on the seventh day after he created the heavens and the earth (Exodus 20:8-11), people are likewise to rest at the end of the week. “Sunday, the first day of the week, became the Catholic ‘seventh day’ and a day of rest after the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead on Sunday,” explained CBN.
While Poland's Catholic bishops have given a thumbs-up to the proposal, Father Paweł Rytel-Andrianik, spokesman for the Polish Bishops Conference, said the bill does not go far enough. “The bishops underscore the need to restore Sunday to society as a day of rest and time of building family ties as well as strengthening social relationships,” he said in a statement. “They point out also that Sunday rest cannot be a luxury for a chosen few, but is an integral part of equal treatment for all employees. Therefore, there is an urgent need to make all Sundays free from work, just as is already the case in many European Union countries."
By contrast, Polish economists have panned the proposal as detrimental the nation’s economy. “The government’s attempt to coerce part of the population not to sell or shop on Sundays is a disgrace and has nothing to do with Catholicism,” said one Polish economist and businessman, Piotr Zapałowicz. “Some people will lose their jobs or part of their income, especially those employed on hourly wages."
Similarly, economic strategist Michal Dybula from Poland’s Bank BGZ BNP Paribas, told Bloomberg News that “any restriction of economic activity, such as retail trade, results in weaker economic growth."
However, Poland’s legislators appear to be following the advice of Pope Benedict, who said in 2012 that "Sunday is the day of the Lord ... a day in which everyone must be able to be free, free for the family and free for God. In defending Sunday we defend human freedom.”
Photo of Polish flag: Clipart.com