Godspeed: Can Poland Succeed without the Church?

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In the times of Polish People’s Republic, when religion and all other key aspects of Polish identity were being actively supressed, the interests of Catholic Church in Poland as an institution and the interests of raison d’etat were aligned to a great extent. Today it is not the case.

The superiority of the Church over the political power was legitimized by the papacy of Pope John Paul II, who was for a few generations of Poles the last means of escape from the uncertainty of their lives – the visible proof of supernatural protection. Since the death of “our” Pope, Poles were left alone with the Church. And, apparently, they are currently facing some difficulties with it. When the reality has already been directed towards the future, the Church not only remained closed but also became even more backwards-thinking.

The Church uses state institutions to safeguard its own interests – accumulating fortune, extending priviledges, holding factual and symbolic power. It claims the right to control the minds of people and demands that the taxtpayers have a whip-round for its evangelization mission. The cross is no longer just a symbol of transdendence, it is used as a completely earthly symbol of controling yet another sphere of life. The Church – hostile towards sexuality as such – belives that it has the right to impose its rules regarding how to behave on both, its followers and the non-believers.

Abandoning the idea of a statewide symbolism which evokes the general feeling of citizenship connecting all Poles despite what their religious beliefs may be weighs on every political party in the Third Polish Republic. However, the Catholic rituals are a significant part of Polish tradition also for the non-believers. That’s just how it is. This is why battling against it or creating atheist equivalents of a religious staffage may evoke a disdainful smile at best.

The Poles who send their children to attend religion lessons at school so they “are left in peace”, those who have church weddings because it’s more “festive”, those who go to church twice a year because “you’re supposed to” – the conformists with no religious expectations, people who easily pressured into anything are the perfect target for the Church. Those who actively fight against it are easily discredited by a straight-forward question “What’s that to them?

People who look for authentic religious experience in Church will say that the hateful and simply stupid statements uttered by bishops can be easily justified: after all, they are just people, and people make mistakes. These are the people who are most dissapointed with the Church. The response will be privatization of faith, disappointment, open rebellion and ultimately, leaving the community alltogether.

The Church does no longer pretend to hold back. It’s time for harvesting. It becomes more and more shameless in its demands to have control over yet another sphere of life, completely ignoring the fact that such a cynical way of using people for their own agendas generates an ever-growing dyscomfort, also in a number of Catholics. Saying that the Church in Poland is lifting us morally sounds more like a bad joke.

The alliance of the throne and the altar in Poland never ended well. This time it may end up badly also for the Church itself. The “Zapaterization” in the formerly Catholic but now more secular Spain until recently sounded like an utter phantasmagoria.

Limiting the political influence of the Church and a return to a state for all the citizens who exhibit good will – both, those who believe in the Catholic God and those who do not – is currently one of the most crucial tasks for our generation. For the sake of the entire community, and especially the part that cares about the future of Catholic faith in Poland.

Translated by Olga Łabendowicz

The article was originally published in Polish at: http://liberte.pl/kosciol-katolicki-z-bogiem-i-chocby-mimo-boga/