Christian Cyclopedia

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(Rep. of Poland). 1. Area: ca. 120, 750 sc. mi. Ethnic groups: Polish 98%, Germans, Ukrainians, Byelorussians. Language: Polish. Religion: mostly RC.

The beginnings of Christianity in Poland are traced to the 2d half of the 9th c. and are apparently connected with Boh. and/or Moravia (see Czechoslovakia, 2). The land soon came under RC influence but was receptive to anti-RC movements (e.g., that of the Hussites*).

2. The Luth. Reformation reached Poland early, esp. through Polish students at Wittenberg and through M. Luther's* writings (see also Reformation, Lutheran, 10, 12). Reformed movements included that of J. Laski.* Many Bohemian* Brethren under persecution fled to Poland. These 3 ev. groups effected a union of sorts in the Consensus of Sandomierz 1570 (see Reformed Confessions, E 5), which Luth. objections against its lack of precise definition, esp. in connection with the Lord's Supper, soon made ineffective.

3. In the 1573 Pax dissidentium (Peace of the Dissident) the Prot. nobles insisted that every new king vow equal protection for Prots. and RCs But the intended effect was not secured. Henry of Valois (1551–89; b. Fontainebleau, Fr.; king of Poland 1573–74; king Henry III of Fr. 1574–89) took the oath reluctantly. Stephen Báthory (István Báthory; 1533–86; king of Poland 1575–86) took the oath but supported the Counter* Reformation. Sigismund III (Sigismund Vasa; 1566–1632; king of Poland 1587–1632, of Swed. 1592–1604 [crowned 1594]), educ. by Jesuits, also supported the Counter Reformation.

4. The 1645 Colloquy (Conf., Syn.) of Thorn not only failed to restore unity bet. RCs and Prots. but divided Luths. and Calvinists. In 1717 the Prots. lost the right to build chs. In 1733 they were barred from civil offices and the diet. Ca. 1767, on insistence of Russ. and Prussia, Prots. and Gk. Orthodox Caths. regained equal rights with RCs 1772–95 Poland underwent 3 partitions, with territories going to Russ., Austria, and Prussia. Strictures against the RC Ch. were imposed in retaliation against the 1830–31 revolution and Russification began. The 2d Polish Revolution (1863–64) was followed by further strictures. With regard to the use of the Russ. language in the life and work of the ch. a compromise was agreed on in the early 1880s.

5. The const. of the rep. of Poland (indep. proclaimed 1918) gave preeminence to RCm, equal rights to all. Poland was torn in WW II by Ger. and Russia. Christians and Jews suffered severely. But a 1949 decree specified that no disadvantages accrue to anyone because of ch. membership, and the 1952 Const. of the Polish People's Rep. says that the ch. is separate from the state, that all citizens have liberty of conscience and faith, and that the ch. and other religious assocs. are free to engage in religious activities. Name changed 1989 to Rep. of Roland. JP, LP

See also Crusades, 9; Lutheran Confessions, A 5; Skarga, Piotr.

Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission

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