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The Father Lemański Affair

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Personal versus Institutional Sanctity in Contemporary Poland

image of Journal of Religion in Europe

Under the People’s Republic of Poland, the Polish clergy often assumed the power to speak on behalf of ‘its’ laity. However, the Church’s foray into democratic politics in the 1990s opened up a profound moral and ideological divide between itself and many Poles who now reject the Church’s institutional pronouncements as immoral and nonrepresentative. This article compares two paradigms of resistance to oppressive institutions by people affiliated with the Church in light of this change. The first, under late Stalinism, reflected hierarchy-initiated efforts to combat state oppression. The second, in contemporary Poland, reflects efforts by a small town priest (Father Wojciech Lemański) and his parishioners to resist oppression at the hands of Church institutions. I argue that the locus of the ‘enemy other’ has shifted, for many Poles, from the state to the Church. Most importantly, I show that sanctity continues to be experienced and sought after in contemporary Poland, but that its social profile has shifted from more institutional to more personal forms in light of increasing suspicion of the institutional Church.

Affiliations: 1: University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, USA, nsmolens@umich.edu

10.1163/18748929-00701002
/content/journals/10.1163/18748929-00701002
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/content/journals/10.1163/18748929-00701002
2014-03-31
2016-12-09

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