The head of Poland's small Anglican community has accused the Polish Government of arbitrarily refusing to grant the Anglican Church legal status.
The issue is particularly sensitive as Queen Elizabeth II - who has the historic title of Supreme Governor of the Church of England - will make her first state visit to Poland from 25 to 27 March.
Though the application by the Anglican community has not been officially rejected, many Anglicans interpret continuing delays and obstacles to their application as virtual refusal.
While the Government's actions do not prevent Poland's Anglicans from practising their religion, the lack of official status will cause difficulties and is seen as offensive.
"They [the Polish Government] appear not to realise we are a mainstream Church, not just a sect," said David Williams, who worked as a parish priest in Wales before becoming Poland's only full-time Anglican chaplain late last year.
"All we are trying to do is provide pastoral care for expatriate Anglicans and Episcopalians here. We have no intention of proselytising, or attempting to win over, baptised Roman Catholics, Lutherans or Orthodox," Fr Williams told ENI. (About 95 per cent of Poland's 39 million inhabitants officially describe themselves in surveys as Roman Catholics.)
As well as the Roman Catholic Church, 68 Christian groups and denominations have been given official registration in Poland. A total of 30 non-Christian communities, including 11 Buddhist and six Hindu sects, also enjoy full official religious rights.
At least 20 other communities, in addition to the Anglicans, are seeking formal registration.
The Anglican claims of discrimination were rejected by the director of the Polish Government's Confessions Office, Andrzej Czohara, who said the Anglican community had failed to meet conditions set out in a 1989 Polish law on freedom of conscience.
"The Polish Government has the most liberal religious policy in Europe, and the rights of Churches are limited only by normal security considerations," Mr Czohara told ENI. "But a final administrative decision in this matter has not yet been taken," he insisted.
The Anglican chaplaincy, which was inaugurated in October last year by the Anglican Bishop of Europe, John Hind, has a congregation of about 60 members, and is the Anglican Church's first official presence in Poland since the Second World War.
A request for registration, allowing full legal rights, was filed with the Confessions Office six months ago.
However, Fr Williams said he believed relevant articles of Poland's 1989 law, which allows "churches and other religious unions" to be set up with the signatures of 15 Polish citizens, had been arbitrarily tightened to prevent the chaplaincy from obtaining rights.
He said the Confessions Office had specified that all 15 must identify themselves as "Anglican founder-members", a provision not included in the original law.
The chaplaincy is the seventh Anglican initiative of its type in Eastern Europe, and is expected to form part of a new regional archdeaconry stretching from the Baltic to Turkey.
Fr Williams, aged 62, said that Polish Anglicans had also been asked to leave their only place of worship, a gymnasium at Warsaw's British School. As a result, Polish Anglicans would not be able to celebrate the chaplaincy's first Easter next month.
Fr Williams said he hoped to strengthen the community's legal claims by tracing pre-war title deeds to land occupied by the capital's Emmanuel House chapel, which was destroyed during the 1944 Warsaw Uprising.
A small Anglican cemetery nearby has also survived the communist period. Anglican baptisms and marriages were recorded in Warsaw as early as the 18th century.
"Bishop Hind has asked the Polish ambassador in London to convey the diocese's concern," Fr Williams said.
"If Poland wishes to join NATO and the European Union, it should allow citizens of other member-countries to worship freely here."
Andrzej Czohara denied that there were new restrictions to religious freedom under the present Government of Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz, a former communist. The Government clashed recently with the Roman Catholic Church over religion in schools and other issues.
"Religious freedom fully conforms with, and even surpasses, European Union standards here, and foreign citizens are free to follow whichever cult they wish," Mr Czohara told ENI.
"However, the rights of legal status enjoyed by particular Churches here are another matter, which must be decided by Poland, not by foreign governments".