Catholicism and capitalism have struck up a close relationship in Poland, thanks largely to American influence, reports The Tablet (May 20).
Jonathan Luxmoore and Jolanta Babiuch write that “freemarket, neoliberal ideology” has prevailed in ruling circles in the church, often providing a unique interpretation of papal encyclicals. The writers cite a recent report noting that U.S. free-market think-tanks such as the American Enterprise Institute have gained “significant opinion-forming friends and collaborators in the Polish church.” It was to this quarter that Polish Catholics turned after the fall of Communism as they sought a way to blend religious faith with private enterprise and capital accumulation.
Also behind the alliance is Fr. Maciej Zieba, head of Poland’s Dominican order, who, with Archbishop Jozef Zycinski of Lublin, has hosted such American neoconservative Catholic thinkers as Richard John Neuhaus, Michael Novak, and George Weigel. The influence of these three Americans have been extensive, as they have regularly sponsored courses and study programs on the “Free Society” for Catholics in Poland, focusing on Pope John Paul II’s encyclical Centesimus Annus. Luxmoore and Babiuch argue that efforts at working for social justice and ameliorating the effects of a declining economy have been stifled in the Polish church.
(The Tablet, 1 King Cloisters, Clifton Walk, London W6 0QZ UK)