Chapter

The Person and Society

Porter-Szücs Brian

in Faith and Fatherland

Published in print June 2011 | ISBN: 9780195399059
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199896844 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195399059.003.0004
The Person and Society

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The dark tone of otherworldliness in 19th-century Polish Catholic sermons was reflected in the teaching that the poor should quietly endure their lot, looking to heaven for an end to their suffering. There was little space in this worldview for talk of social reform. But this message would change with surprising rapidity, and by the mid 20th century, Polish Catholic politicians, social activists, and priests were almost unanimous in their the hostility to the socio-economic status quo. Phrases like “social injustice” and “exploitation” became commonplace in Catholic rhetoric even before WWII, eventually congealing into a comprehensive social vision that challenged both the market economies of the West and the state planning of the Soviet Union. The intellectual foundation for what is sometimes called “social Catholicism” was in fact well established in Poland very early in the 20th century, no later than elsewhere in Europe. Translating this into a meaningful social movement was another matter, though even in this regard Catholicism equipped many Poles with a vocabulary of social criticism that helped them make sense of—and propose solutions for—a wide variety of grievances and injustices.

Keywords: Rerum Novarum; Catholic social teaching; Leo XIII; social Catholicism; Józef Bilczewski; personalism; Emmanuel Mounier; Tygodnik Powszechny; Pope John Paul II; Karol Wojtyła

Chapter.  19491 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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