Jan Maria Jackowski
Despite the fact that the transformations of 1989 were accepted as the date of the fall of communism in Central-Eastern Europe they did not mark a clear political and moral caesura between the Third Polish Republic and the Polish People’s Republic. The secular forces kept realising their conception of atheistic state, not justified by ‘scientific ideology’ but the so-called ideological neutrality of the state. It was easier because we inherited our public life built on atheism. A considerable part of the state apparatus, those that possessed and those that controlled the media, the organs of prosecution and jurisdiction remained in the hands of those who had been formed by the anti-religious mentality of the Polish People’s Republic.
The transformation allowed the former opposition to co-rule, especially in this segment that embraced people who were connected with the regime in many ways, and then constituted the core of the left-secular part of the Trade Union ‘Solidarity’. Those people, very often far from the Catholic faith, used the Church for their own purposes, trying to create the impression that they were close to it and even that they were ‘people of the Church.’ Since they realised that a considerable part of the nation had identified themselves with the Church, and through the activities that instrumentalised Catholicism for their own interests they did their best to be regarded as authenticated.
In the political life of the early 1990s, the post-communist environment and the environment of the so-called secular left-wing party, which had praised the Church for constituting ‘area of freedom’, gained very strong influences. After the ‘round table’ meetings both groups had similar views concerning the presence of the Church in social life. For those people the rival was not the Polish United Workers’ Party, changing its name into social democrats in a pseudo-European style, but rather the Catholic Church that was disturbing them because it defined Poland’s identity and enjoyed a great authority as the spiritual conqueror of communism.
The attacks – if their intensity was to be compared with that in the declining period of the Polish People’s Republic – began to increase instead of disappearing. According to the conception of Europe’s laicisation, first of all the attacks had the mottoes of freedom from ‘clerical ideology’ and ‘rule of the Church’ as well as ‘creating a confessional state of the Polish Nation.’ The Church in Poland, besides the ‘Polish Pope’, was regarded as the main enemy of the ‘beneficial’ wings of the Western soc-demo-liberal left-wing. Consequently, many-sided actions were taken against the Church. First of all, the blow was a mass media attack aiming at pushing religion to ‘private sphere’ and forcing the Church to remain silent, especially in the area of the moral dimension of public life.
In the light of the recent events in Poland the words of John Paul II uttered on 22 May 1995 are still valid. He said that ‘Under the mottoes of tolerance in public life and mass media, some big – perhaps bigger – intolerance is spreading. Believers feel it painfully. One can notice the tendency to push believers to the margin of social life; what is most sacred to them is ridiculed and mocked. These forms of returning discrimination evoke anxiety and make us consider many things.’