The Nation Penitent

Porter-Szücs Brian

in Faith and Fatherland

Published in print June 2011 | ISBN: 9780195399059
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199896844 | DOI:
The Nation Penitent

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The 19th-century Church preached political docility and deference and was generally hostile towards a Polish national movement that repeatedly staged violent insurrections. Even setting aside concerns about obedience to “legitimate” authority, it should not be surprising that an institution claiming to be catholic (that is, universal) would have some reservations about an ideology that politicized particularism. Nonetheless, many Catholics wanted to think of themselves as patriotic Poles even as the institutional voices of the Church condemned the national movement. They managed to do so by evoking a distinctly Catholic historiosophy, one that allowed them to hope for independence without engaging in any acts of insurrection or political disobedience. The partitions of Poland were cast as acts of Divine Providence, and the period of “enslavement” that followed was described as a necessary penance. In this scheme, God would restore Poland’s independence as soon as the Poles adequately repented their sins and turned once again to the Church. Willful action to hasten this process by fighting for independence (particularly in alliance with the forces of the left) would only further evoke God’s anger, and thus delay Poland’s restoration.

Keywords: Zygmunt Feliński; 1863 Polish uprising; Kingdom of God; Divine Providence; Polish National Movement

Chapter.  10886 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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