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How Does Religion Matter Today in Poland? Secularization in Europe and the 'Causa Polonia Semper Fidelis'

Welche Bedeutung hat Religion in Polen heute? Säkularisierung in Europa und die 'Causa Polonia Semper Fidelis'
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Arnold, Maik

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Abstract Secularization in Europe has become, on the one hand, an undeniable socio-cultural and historical matter of fact. On the other hand, it is dangerous to talk of a universal development, although studies can show empirical evidence and validity for some regions and countries in Europe. In various theories of secularization it is assumed that irreligious social developments can be attributed to processes of modernization, transformation and functional differentiation as well as to the rationalization and individualization of cultural life-worlds. This (often ideologically disguised) hypothesis is associated with the critical wing of the European Enlightenment. As José Casanova emphasized, however, the hypothesis of a secularized Europe needs to be confronted with various special cases of ‘over secularization’ (e.g., East Germany, Czech Republic and Scandinavian countries) and ‘sub-secularization’ (such as Ireland and Poland). Nevertheless, the ‘causa Polonia semper fidelis’ is exposed as an exception amongst the so-called Eastern European transition countries. In Casanova’s opinion, the secularization in Europe could be regarded as a ‘self-fulfilling prophecy’ that serves both as cause and a consequence of the process of (religious) profanation. This means that religion becomes redundant not in itself or by losing its explicatory power, but by the conversion to the new belief of a decline of religion in human daily life and the whole of society. Since the normative theory of secularization cannot ultimately provide a general or a viable explanation for the special historical and religious developments in Poland, other approaches may be imperative. Therefore, this paper aims at focusing on the question of how and what socio-cultural, historical, and religious changes have resulted in today’s high percentage of committed Roman Catholic believers. It will also be necessary to undertake a re-reading (discussed in Casanova) of the argument adduced by Bishop Tadeusz Pieronek (former secretary-general of the Polish Bishops’ Conference and rector of the Pontifical Academy in Krakow) – namely that the European integration of the ‘Catholic Poland’ is an essential missionary assignment for the church.
Keywords Poland; secularization; cultural history; Europe; Catholic Church (Roman); Catholicism; sociocultural development; sociology of religion; religion
Classification Sociology of Religion; Cultural Sociology, Sociology of Art, Sociology of Literature
Collection Title Europe and America in the Mirror: Culture, Economy, and History
Editor Arnold, Maik; Łukasik, Przemysław
Conference Transatlantic Images and Realities: American-German Relations Conference am Goethe Institut Krakau. Krakau, 2011
Document language English
Publication Year 2012
Publisher Nomos
City Krakau
Page/Pages p. 199-238
ISBN 978-83-7688-091-4
Status Published Version; peer reviewed
Licence Deposit Licence - No Redistribution, No Modifications