Paediatrics and Child Health | 2019

The Polish Church and the “Thaw” of 1956



The process of\xa0“thaw”, developing in\xa0Poland after the death of\xa0Joseph Stalin, for a\xa0long time did not include the aspect of\xa0religious freedom. Demands to\xa0restore the possibility of\xa0free worship, teaching religious education, and, above all, the release of\xa0the Primate Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski, were always present in\xa0the society, as\xa0evidenced by\xa0school strikes or\xa0slogans appearing during the Poznan events of\xa0June 1956. The changes of\xa0October 1956, initiated by\xa0the 8th plenary of\xa0the Central Committee of\xa0the Polish United Workers’ Party, led to\xa0an improvement in\xa0state-Church relations and implementation of\xa0the most important postulates of\xa0the Church, including the return of\xa0the Primate to\xa0Warsaw, the reinstatement of\xa0religious education in\xa0schools, and the return of\xa0chaplains to\xa0prisons and hospitals. The authorities, however, did not treat the above as part of\xa0a\xa0binding agreement. As\xa0early as in the 1957 and 1958 activities restricting the functioning of\xa0the Church began. The symbolic markings of\xa0the process were the attack on\xa0the Primate’s Institute at\xa0Jasna Gora in\xa01958 and the withdrawal of\xa0consent for the construction of\xa0the church in\xa0Krakow’s Nowa Huta. Finally, in\xa01961, religious education was removed from schools, and in\xa01962 a\xa0separate department of\xa0the Security Service was established for the sole purpose of\xa0the fight against religion. Although the practices of\xa0the Stalinist period did not make their comeback, the 1956 thaw appeared to\xa0be only a\xa0short episode in\xa0a\xa0constant conflict between the communist state and the Roman Catholic Church.

Volume 9
Pages 69-90
DOI 10.15633/pch.3451
Language English
Journal Paediatrics and Child Health

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