Should Christians be patriotic

Polish Bishops' ConferencePatriotism yes, nationalism no

"The Christian figure of patriotism" is the name of the text published by the Polish Bishops' Conference. He opposes nationalism with patriotism that is welcomed from the clergy's point of view. The chairman of the Bishops' Conference Stanislaw Gadecki:

"The Church in Poland has always been a supporter of patriotism, especially in times of crisis. Patriotism has meant that we have regained freedom after the 123 years of Polish division. There is no contradiction between the Church and patriotism"

Nationalism, however, puts one's own nation above others, and that is not permissible. For Polish believers it is clear who is meant by this: right-wing extremist organizations that are becoming more and more present in Poland. They also allegedly use Christian slogans in their demonstrations, for example last weekend.

The National Radical Camp, or ONR for short, celebrated the 83rd anniversary of its founding, and several hundred supporters dressed in black marched through Warsaw. "Ave Christ Rex", they chanted and: "Radical nationalism". This is exactly what the bishops' declaration fits in: It is idolatry to seek Christian justification for fueling national conflicts.

The nationalists feel addressed, said Krzysztof Bosak from the "People's Movement" party:

"Pagan nationalism is alien to us"

"I am disappointed with this document. It seems that the authors equate nationalism with a pagan nationalism that puts the nation in the place of God. But that is alien to us. Our nationalism has been Catholic since the 1920s. This document also lets many questions unanswered, for example immigration. "

The Polish nationalists are not only against accepting refugees. They also reject guest workers, especially Ukrainians. This was what was meant when the ONR supporters chanted over the weekend in Warsaw:

"Work in Poland for Poland". More and more Ukrainians are victims of crime. At the beginning of the week in Bialystok: three young men hit a Ukrainian youth with a board of nails, the police assume a xenophobic motive.

The Bishops' Conference also commented on the coexistence of cultures. Their spokesman Pawel Rytel-Andrianik:

"Patriotism is linked to the fourth commandment: You should honor your father and mother. For this is how we should also honor our own home. And we transfer this respect to our neighbors, to other nations, to other cultures. That is why the bishops say: Different denominations, different traditions of those who live in Poland are united by this idea of ​​patriotism. "

The text of the bishops mentions that Orthodox Christians, Protestants, Jews and Muslims also served the common fatherland well. This also applies to those without religion. He also calls for "solidarity-based cooperation with other nations".

Right-wing conservative PiS remains under the protection of the church

Critics of the Catholic Church reacted with relief to the text, according to the Krakow philosophy professor Jan Hartmann:

"That is a very important document. There are also nationalists among the clergy, they will probably appear a little more cautious now. The text expresses what culturally educated people have been repeating for 100 years, especially since the Second World War."

However, the text does not change the support of the Catholic Church for the right-wing conservative ruling party PiS. On the contrary, he underlines literally right at the beginning:

"The revival of patriotic attitudes that we have seen in Poland over the past few years is a very positive phenomenon." The text could have been controversial within the episcopate. Members of the episcopate such as the Krakow Archbishop Marek use nationalist tones in their sermons and warn of the pernicious influence of the West.

The Wroclaw Archbishop Jozef Kupny, author of the text, urged believers to talk less about his formulations than to ask the practical question: Everyone should question their own actions, he said.