The protestor's banner quoted John Paul II

A protestor was thrown out of a Polish church after unfurling a banner which quoted St John Paul II as saying “racism is a sin”.

Gabriela Lazarek was protesting at a Mass in Warsaw attended by Catholics participating in a Polish Independence Day march. An estimated 60,000 demonstrators took part in the annual event, marking Poland regaining independence in 1918.

According to the Polish newspaper Ośrodek Kontroli Obywatelskiej, the Mass was celebrated by Fr Roman Kneblewski, known for “nationalist” views, and many of those in attendance wore political insignia.

Lazarek said that she had not intended to unfurl the banner inside the church, but that during the homily Fr Kneblewski invoked the teaching of John Paul II, and she was so shocked that she stood up and displayed the banner.

At this point, Lazarek claims, several attendees ejected her from the church, shouting, “Get out! Get out of here!”

The message on Lazarek’s banner read in full (in English translation): “Racism is a sin that constitutes a serious offence against God” – a quotation from a 2001 Angelus address by John Paul II.

Although the march was not specifically organised by the far right, politically extreme slogans were displayed on some banners, such as “Pure Poland, white Poland!”