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A 1925 concordat between the Vatican and the Second Polish Republicmarker had 27 articles, which guaranteed the freedom of the Church and the faithful. It regulated the usual points of interests, Catholic instruction in primary schools and secondary schools, nomination of bishops, establishment of seminaries, a permanent nuncio in Warsawmarker, who also represents the interests of the Holy See in Gdańskmarker. It was considered one of the most favorable concordats for the Holy See, and would become a basis for many future concordats.

Negotiations

The Roman Catholic religion was the religion of majority of the citizens in the Second Polish Republic (see also demographics of the Second Republic). The Polish constitution of 1921 stipulated in Article 114 that the "Roman Catholic faith, the religion of majority of the nation, takes first place among the equally important faiths in the country. The Roman Catholic Church governs itself. Relation to the Church will be determined based on the treaty with the Holy See, upon ratification by the Sejm (Polish parliament)." The negotiations started in 1921, and the Polish side (Minister of Religion and Education, Maciej Rataj, lawyer Władysław Abraham and bishop Adolf Szelążek) drafted a proposal by 1923. Then the negotiations were taken over by Stanisław Grabski, who represented the endecja faction, then dominant in the government.

The text concordat was published in Poland in Dziennik Ustaw on February 10 and was presented to Sejm on March 24. It was criticized by the representatives of non-Catholic minorities (such as the Ukrainians), as well as by the socialist and communist members of the parliament, but the center-right conservatives and Catholic representatives had the majority and were supportive of the treaty. It was signed on March 27 ) by Pietro Gasparri, Cardinal Secretary of State for the Vatican and Stanisław Grabski for Poland.

Content

Under the concordat, the Church enjoyed full protection of the State and prayed for the leaders of Poland during Sunday mass and on May 3. Clerics made a solemn oath of allegiance to the Polish State. If clergy were under accusation, trial documents would be forwarded to ecclesiastical authorities if clergy were accused of crimes. If convicted, they would not serve incarceration in jails but would be handed over to Church authorities for internment in a monastery or convent. The concordat extended to the Latin Rite in five ecclesiastical provinces: Gnieznomarker and Poznańmarker, Warsaw, Wilnomarker, Lwówmarker and Cracowmarker. It applied as well to united Catholics of the Greco-Ruthenian rite in Lwów, and Przemyślmarker, and to the Armenian Rite in Lwów. For religious celebration in the specific rites, Canon law was required to be observed. Catholic instruction was mandatory in all public schools, except universities. In Article 24, the Church and State recognized each other's property rights seeming in part from the time of partition before 1918. This meant that property rights and real estate titles of the Church were respected. A later agreement was to define the status of expropriated Church properties, and until that time, the State would pay Church dotations for its clergy. The concordat stipulated that no part of Polish territory could be placed under the jurisdiction of a bishop outside of Poland or not of Polish citizenship.

On paper, the concordat seemed to be a victory for the Church. But Polish bishops felt forced to take measures against early violations, in the area of marriage legislation and property rights. Pope Pius XI was supportive of this and of episcopal initiatives to have their own plenary meetings.

Concordat and Lithuania

The concordat caused a severe conflict between Vatican and Lithuaniamarker. The concordat established an ecclesiastical province in Wilno, thereby acknowledging Poland's claims to the city despite Lithuanian requests to govern the province directly from Rome. Lithuania and Poland had been in a bitter struggle for the city and the surrounding area since 1920 when the city was taken over by pro-Polish forces during Żeligowski's Mutiny. Lithuanians submitted a protest to the Vatican and recalled its representative there; the Holy See responded in kind and all diplomatic relations between Lithuania and the Vatican were terminated. They did not improve when in April 1926 Pope Pius XI unilaterally established and reorganized the Lithuanian ecclesiastical province without regard to Lithuanian demands and proposals. Popular outrage in response to the concordat was one of the reasons why the Lithuanian Christian Democrats, the leading pro-Catholic party in Lithuania, lost the majority in the 1926 parliamentary elections. As a result, a weak coalition government was formed; this in turn inspired a military coup d'état in December 1926. Lithuanian relations with the Vatican were normalized a few months later, on June 4, 1927, when a concordat was signed between Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Gasparri for the Vatican and Dr. Jurgis Šaulys for Lithuania. The improvements in 1927 were mostly due to the efforts of Prime Minister Augustinas Voldemaras.

End of the concordat

The concordat ended on 12 September 1945, when the Soviet-controlled communist government of Poland claimed that during the war, the Vatican had appointed German priests to Polish parishes, violating the concordat. This claim was not recognized by the Vatican and many Polish priests, such as Stefan Wyszyński. In a larger context, not only Poland, but all East European countries under Sovietmarker control cancelled their concordats with the Vatican after 1945 as a part of the Persecutions against the Catholic Church during the pontificate of Pope Pius XII.

References

  1. Concordata 3
  2. Concordata 8
  3. Stanisław Dzięciołowski, Ratyfikacja Konkordatu - III i IV 1925
  4. Joanne M Restrepo Restrepo SJ, Concordata Regnante Sancissimo Domino Pio XI Inita, Pontificia Universitas Gregoriana, Romae, 1932.
  5. Concordata 12
  6. Concordata 22
  7. Concordata 9
  8. Concordata 18
  9. Concordata 13
  10. Concordata 26
  11. Schmidlin IV, 135
  12. Eidintas, Alfonsas. Lithuania in European Politics, p. 144.
  13. Konkordat in Encyklopedia WIEM
  14. The Pope, according to Wyszynski, never ceased to recognize Polish sovereignty and did not make any personal or territorial changes, while the frequent Vatican press reports continued to report about Poland "as a country standing with the free states fighting for a better future". (Micewski, Cardinal Wyszinski, NY, 1984, 34) Still, State authorities tried to discredit Pope Pius XII in the eyes of Polish society. His actual speeches and messages to the people of Poland were not known in Poland. (Micewski, 418)


Further reading

  • Łukomski Stanisław, Konkordat zawarty dnia 10 lutego 1925 roku pomiędzy Stolicą Apostolską i Rzecząpospolitą Polską, Łomża 1934
  • Wisłocki Jerzy, Konkordat polski z 1925 roku: Zagadnienia prawno-polityczne, niwersytet im. Adama Mickiewicza 1977


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