Secret blacklist of Polish pupils justified by concordat
Polish high school pupils who skip Religious Education classes have ended up on a secret Church blacklist. As soon as this came out, the Polish Church sheltered under the concordat, claiming that this agreement with the Vatican gives them the right to collect this information as part of its “mission”.
In 2004 the Polish Church sent a secret directive to the priests who taught Catholic religion classes.  They were instructed to compile a blacklist of students who skipped these classes and send copies to the Curia and the students' home parishes. This is eerily reminiscent of the blacklists drawn up by the secret police of the former Communist government who kept files on students, too, especially on student priests. 
The Church's blacklist might have remained hidden in the Curia, if news of this hadn't been leaked to the press from one of the parishes. When the story came out the Gdańsk Metropolitian Curia responded that this information is essential for the Church to enable it to perform its mission and that its freedom to do so had been granted by the Concordat (Article 5). According to this argument Church collection of personal data belongs to “the exercise of its jurisdiction, management and administration of its own affairs" and any interference with this is a violation of “religious freedom”. The Curia claimed that this use of personal data is necessary to allow the Church to assess, for example, whether a person may be admitted to the sacraments, or act as a godparent. This statement is widely interpreted as a social threat by the Church.  That is because in Poland anyone denied the role of godparent or refused Church sacraments would likely be the object of scandal and a source of both grief and shame to their family.
The Church's appeal to the concordat has pitted the authority of the Concordat against the authority of the Constitution. Article 25.2 of the Constitution requires public authorities to ensure freedom of expression by being impartial in matters of religious beliefs and these Catholic religion classes are taking place in state schools. They are also taking place at the taxpayers' expense, at an estimated cost of up to a billion Polish zlotys.  A further problem is that, in actual practice, Catholic religion is the default obligation, with the onus on students to prove that they should be granted exemption from it. (Students who have been baptised as Catholics are obliged to participate and the others have to apply for exclusion from religion lessons and try to justify it to the satisfaction of the school authorities.) And, oh yes, the grades for Catholic religion are averaged in with the other ones, so that doing well in religion class improves your grades and ultimately your chance in life. (See Creeping evangelisation in state schools.)
Originally the Church was interested in also obtaining the personal data of pupils who did not attend religion class, and only invoked the concordat clause once this could no longer be hidden. Thus the ruling of the Public Prosecutor still amounted to a partial victory for the Polish bishops. When the Prosecuter's Office reviewed this case as a possible breach of the Data Protection Act, it ruled that it was perfectly legal for the Church to collect the personal data of the pupils — those who attended religion class — because the Church is excluded from a duty to register its data base.
Even more disturbing is what is reported to be happening unofficially. Member of Parliament Professor Joanna Senyszyn mentions that her constitutents repeatedly complain that grades in RE are given “for attendance at Mass, knowing prayers, information about the religious practices of the family”. ...Yes, “information about the religious practices of the family”. 
Skipped catechism — landed on the blacklist
The Gdansk Prosecutor's Office will examine the case of disclosure of the personal data of students who opted out of [Catholic, the only kind offered] not attending Religious Education lessons. This information has been forwarded to local parishes by a Religious Education teacher at a high school in Gdańsk.
According to the spokesman of the District Public Prosecutor's Office in Gdansk, Grazyna Wawryniuk, an investigation has been launched by the Public Prosecutor's Office of the Gdańsk Metropolitan District.
The proceedings were initiated by the Prosecutor as a result of information about this which appeared in the media, Wawryniuk explained.
In early March the media reported that the [Catholic] Religious Education teacher in Secondary School Six in Gdansk, following a directive of the Catechism Department of the Gdansk Metropolitan Curia (KMG), collected the addresses of students who did not attend Religious Education classes and sent them to their home parishes. The school's Parent's Council sent a protest about this to the Curia, arguing that this action broke the laws which guarantee freedom of conscience and religion and the protection of personal data.
Two weeks ago the Catechism Department of the Gdansk Metropolitan Curia responded to the Parents' Council in writing. In this statement the Church maintained that the practice of collecting information about students not attending Religious Education follows an internal instruction to the Catechism Department by the Curia in 2004.
In the letter the Catechism Department of the Curia stressed that this practice is necessary in order, for example, to assess whether someone may be admitted to the sacraments or act as a godparent. The Catechism Department also invoked the provisions of the Concordat, which grants the Church, among other rights, free and public exercise of its mission.
Last Friday the Inspector General for Personal Data Protection announced that he would investigate the case. However, the Inspector's spokesman, Malgorzata Kaluzynska-Jasak, told the PAP [Polish Press Agency], that "the Church is excluded from the obligation to send their database to GIODO [the Data Protection Agency]", which means that GIODO "has limited capabilities." We will examine this issue and give our opinion, she added.
Also last Friday [20 March 2009] the Ombudsman sent a letter to Pomerania’s Superintendent of Education, Zdzisław Szudrowicz, asking for an explanation. Mr. Szudrowicz says that this letter has not yet been received by the school inspectorate.
Source: INTERIA.PL / PAP
Data Protection Agency: The Reverend had the right to reveal students' data
Polska Lokalna, 20 April 2009.
The Opinion of the Inspector General for Personal Data Protection which has been sent to the Gdansk Prosecutor's Office states that the Church had the right to disclose personal data of students — but only of Catholics. The Data Protection Agency [GIODO] investigated the data forwarded to parishes by a Religious Education teacher in one of the Gdansk secondary schools of pupils who do not attend [voluntary] Religious Education classes.
Renata Kłonowska, chief of the Public Prosecutor's Office for Metropolitan Gdańsk, pursuing the investigation, said that GIODO’s opinion had arrived on Monday.
Kłonowska said that the letter from the Inspector [for data protection] states that in his opinion the disclosure of personal data is permissible if it is necessary for carrying out the Church's statutory activities. GIODO added, however, that this only applies to data on members of the Church. [...]
The [National] Ombudsman is also interested in disclosure of data of students by the Religious Education teacher. He wrote to the Superintendent of Education for Pomerania, Zdzisław Szudrowicz, asking for clarification in this matter.
Source: INTERIA.PL / PAP
1. U.S. Department of State, International Religious Freedom Report 2007, "Poland". http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf/2007/90193.htm
Religious education classes continue to be taught in the public schools at public expense. Children have a choice between religious instruction and ethics. Although Catholic Church representatives teach the vast majority of these religious classes, parents may request such classes in any of the legally registered religions. While not common, such non-Catholic religious instruction exists, and the Ministry of Education pays the instructors. Religious education instructors, including clergy, receive salaries from the state for teaching religion in public schools. Catholic Church representatives are included on a commission that determines whether books qualify for school use.
2. Cardinal Glemp in 2006: "At the offices of the secret services [Committee for Public Security] each of us [clergy] had his file. Each priest, every parishioner, every seminarian was, using the euphemism, object of interest". ("W urzędach tajnych służb każdy z nas miał swoją teczkę. Każdy duchowny, każdy proboszcz, każdy seminarzysta był, używając eufemizmu, obiektem zainteresowania")
3. Andrzej Koraszewski, "State and Church incite apostasy", Racjionaista, 24 April 2009.
4. Translator's note: The estimate of half a billion PLN (in the 3 May blog entry above) is a very low estimate, and a full billion PLN seems more plausible. There are 31,000 Religious Education teachers (mostly priests, sometimes nuns) hence 1,000,000,000 : 31,000 :12 < 2,700 PLN gross/month which is what many teachers earn. Thus all the figures above could be doubled.
5. "Blog prof Joanny Senyszyn" Entry for 4 Grudnia [December] 2007.