Poland's Christian Mission in Europe

Last week, Poland's (ex-communist) president called for an explicit reference to Europe's Christian heritage to be inserted into the forthcoming EU constitution. Others have only whispered their longing for such a statement. José Casanova explains why Poland publicly took the lead.

The link between Christianity and European civilization is breaking. Western Europe is less and less the core of Christian civilization, and the most dynamic forms of Christianity today are less and less European. Yet it is at this moment that Catholic Poland is ``rejoining Europe.''

During the years when West European societies were undergoing their process of secularization--indeed, of ``de-Christianization''--Polish Catholicism underwent an extraordinary revival. All attempts by the communist regime to sever the links between the Catholic Church and the Polish nation failed. Forced secularization from above--relatively successful in the Soviet Union--failed abjectly. The hope that economic development would have the same secularizing effect as in the West also proved false.

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