Marta Ordon (John Paul II Catholic U. of Lublin, Faculty of Law) has posted Freedom of Association in the People’s Republic of Poland and Its Restriction with Regard to the Roman Catholic Church. The abstract follows.
The desire to associate with others is a manifestation of the social nature of every human being. In modern democracies, the right to associate is regarded as one of the personal liberties. Such democratic states create favorable conditions for the operation of various types of organizations, including those established to pursue religious goals. However, it was not the case in the People’s Republic of Poland (“PRP”), that is, under the communist rule. In a country modelled on the Soviet state and acknowledging the supremacy of the Communist Party over the entire society, all the other actors of the social system were expected to be mere “dummies on the public scene dominated by the Communist Party.” It is worth noting that the political system deployed in Poland after World War II was based on the atheistic Marxist ideology that was hostile to any religion or religious organizations, particularly the Roman Catholic Church. What follows, when pondering upon the issue of freedom of association in the PRP and its restriction with regard to the Catholic Church’s organizations, the ideological aspects must not be disregarded.
As a part of the introduction to the main body of the paper, the author will clarify the difference between the concept of freedom of association as adopted modern democracies and that reinforced in socialist countries, as well as demonstrating the attitude of communist authorities to the Roman Catholic Church and its organizations. Further, legal and factual constraints will be exposed that led to almost a total elimination of the Church-led organizations in communist Poland. The paper primarily explores the Polish literature on the subject and the material gathered in the Polish state and Church archives, since nothing about the subject has yet been published in English.
Last Month, Texas A&M University Press published The Struggle of Hungarian Lutherans under Communism by H. David Baer (Texas Lutheran University). The publisher’s description follows.
What does a religious community do when confronted by a political regime determined to eliminate a religion? Under communism, Hungary’s persecuted Lutheran Church tried desperately to find a strategy for survival while remaining faithful to its Christian beliefs. Appealing to the Lutheran Confessions, many argued that the church can do whatever is necessary to survive provided it does not compromise on its essential ministry, while others appealing to the witness of the confessor Bishop Lajos Ordass argued that the church must uncompromisingly witness to the truth even if that means ecclesiological extinction.
In The Struggle of Hungarian Lutherans under Communism, H. David Baer draws upon the disciplines of theology, history, ethics, and politics to provide a comprehensive analysis of the different strategies developed by the church to preserve its integrity. Relying on previously unnoted archival documents and other primary sources, Baer has made a substantial contribution to Eastern European studies.
Vigorously written, his telling of the history is also a sensitive and moving account of courage and cowardice in the fact of religious persecution. This book should be of interest not only to students of religion in Eastern Europe but also to anyone concerned about the problems that arise wherever there is religious persecution.
Next month, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. will publish Dissident for Life: Alexander Ogorodnikov and the Struggle for Religious Freedom in Russia (2013)by Koenraad De Wolf. The publisher’s description follows.
This gripping book tells the largely unknown story of longtime Russian dissident Alexander Ogorodnikov — from Communist youth to religious dissident, in the Gulag and back again. Ogorodnikov’s courage has touched people from every walk of life, including world leaders such as Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, and Margaret Thatcher.
In the 1970s Ogorodnikov performed a feat without precedent in the Soviet Union: he organized thousands of Protestant, Orthodox, and Catholic Christians in an underground group called the Christian Seminar. When the KGB gave him the option to leave the Soviet Union rather than face the Gulag, he firmly declined because he wanted to change “his” Russia from the inside out. His willingness to sacrifice himself and be imprisoned meant leaving behind his wife and newborn child. Continue reading
This August, Ohio University Press published Between the Brown and the Red: Nationalism, Catholicism, and Communism in Twentieth-Century Poland by Mikolaj Stanislaw Kunicki (University of Notre Dame). The publisher’s description follows.
In this study of the relationship of nationalism, communism, authoritarianism, and religion in twentieth-century Poland, Mikołaj Kunicki shows how the country’s communist rulers tried to adapt communism to local traditions, particularly ethnocentric nationalism and Catholicism. Focusing on the political career of Bolesław Piasecki, a Polish nationalist politician who started his journey as a fascist before the war and ended it as a procommunist activist, Kunicki demonstrates that Polish Communists reinforced the ethnocentric self-definition of Polishness and—as Piasecki’s case proves—prolonged the existence of the nationalist Right.