In the wake of the departure of communism and communist-related political parties in Poland and southeast Europe, a new, highly energized and attractive political movement is reshaping the future of the region, according to the journal Foreign Affairs (January/February).
Starting with the surprising victory of the Solidarity Electoral Action bloc (AWS) in Poland’s legislature’s elections last September, a Christian democratic movement based on explicit Catholic teachings, Poland’s economic and social life is being reshaped to harmonize specifically with the traditional faith of the great majority of its people.
A resurgence of new legislation based largely on market capitalism as espoused by Pope John Paul II’s encyclical “Centisimus Annus” is giving hope to those looking to revitalize eastern Europe after decades of stagnation under Soviet direction. Specifically, AWS is flourishing because under the highly effective leadership of Marian Krzaklewski, it is appealing directly to the long-faithful Catholics in Poland. It supports explicit “right to life” programs in the country; it utilizes Christian radio broadcasting; and it works carefully with local political constituencies to further specific neighborhood issues.
The article also suggests that the same general pattern of direct Christian political activism is spreading to Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, and Lithuania. Leaders find that these Christian democratic movement’s appeal to “tradition” and connection with Roman Catholicism “is creating a stable frame of reference for people who have experienced wrenching economic social and political change.”
The social vacuum created by decades of communist-directed legislation is being filled by people inspired by Catholic values now freely expressed in national life. The Foreign Affairs writer suggests that this resurgence of Christian democracy may soon spread to western Europe.
(Foreign Affairs, 58 E.68th St., New York, NY 10021)
— By Erling Jorstad.