In 1977, Adam Michnik, editor of Gazeta Wyborcza, the influential Polish newspaper, published The Church and the Left. In it, he called for the conservative Catholic Church and the Polish dissident Left to ally against the communists. Today, the book is a testimony to how unlikely alliances can topple authoritarian governments. What allowed for such a powerful coalition to emerge? And how do we make sense of this past when Polish Catholicism poses a threat to democracy today? This interview with Geneviève Zubrzycki, University of Michigan, and José Casanova, Georgetown University, will discuss the relations between the Catholic Church and Polish civil society in communist Poland and its legacies. How did religion impact the fall of communism? And how does it influence the formation of the contemporary Central and Eastern European states?
Geneviève Zubrzycki is Professor of Sociology at the University of Michigan, where she directs the Weiser Center for Europe and Eurasia and the Copernicus Center for Polish Studies. She’s the author of the award-winning The Crosses of Auschwitz: Nationalism and Religion in Post-Communist Poland and Beheading the Saint: Nationalism, Religion and Secularism in Quebec. Her most recent book is Resurrecting the Jew: Nationalism, Philosemitism and Poland’s Jewish Revival.
Jose Casanova is an Emeritus Professor of Sociology, Theology and Religious Studies and Senior Fellow, Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs, Georgetown University. He’s the author of numerous works on religion, secularization, and globalization, among them the modern classic, Public Religions in the Modern World (U of Chicago, 1994), which has been translated into numerous Western and non-Western languages.