Political and Social Place of the Catholic Church in Poland and the ‘Battle for the Smolensk Cross’

This paper seeks to explain the place of the Catholic Church in the politics and society of Poland, and to evaluate attempts of different interest groups to use the Church for political purposes in what can be called the ‘battle for the Smolensk cross’ of 2010. The general intention of this paper is to deepen the understanding of Polish State-Church relations and Polish politics in general. Firstly, the paper briefly explains the place of the Catholic Church in the Polish society, culture and politics in the past. Secondly, it assesses contemporary Polish State-Church relations and compares those with patterns present in other liberal democratic states. Thirdly, it analyses the controversy over the ‘Smolensk cross’ in the context of political interests of certain groups in contemporary Poland. Finally, it evaluates the consequences of the controversy and speculates on possible future developments especially in the context of the upcoming general election of autumn 2011.

This paper argues that the Polish pattern of State-Church relations is an optimal one, and that religion should not be used for political purposes as it unfortunately was the case during the controversy over the ‘Smolensk cross’. Information for this paper has been collected through critical discourse analysis of speeches, newspaper articles and discursive events constituting the ‘battle for the Smolensk cross’ in Poland in the summer of 2010.

Konrad Jagodzinski

2nd Year International Relations with Political Science BA





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