Title

Crosiers & Communists: The Catholic Church and the Overthrow of Communism

Lead Author Major

International Relations/Global Studies & Political Science

Format

Oral Presentation

Faculty Mentor Name

Keith Smith

Faculty Mentor Department

Political Science

Abstract/Artist Statement

Since the end of the Cold War, scholars have devoted countless resources to studying the forces which led to the fall of global Communism and the spread of democracy. To add to the understanding of this topic, I attempt to answer the question: what role did the Catholic Church play in the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe? In order to shed some light on this question I focus on Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Hungary, the three Catholic countries of the Eastern Bloc. By utilizing the relatively new theoretical framework of “ethical civil society” expounded by notable political scientists such as Juan Linz and Alfred Stepan, I illustrate the Church’s role as both a rival source of moral legitimacy to Communist regimes and a cultivator of underground ethical civil society.I test two hypotheses implied by this theory: first, that the strength of civil society increases as the Church’s role within it grows; and second, that as the strength of civil society increases, the collapse of Communism in that country is hastened.Using quantitative and qualitative data quelled from world news reports of the time, scholarly publications, and biographical writings, I will show that the currently available data tentatively supports both hypotheses. I will conclude by arguing, in line with the available data, that the Church successfully fostered an ethical civil society in Poland, leading to the first collapse of a Communist government in that state, while it met with less success in fostering ethical civil society in Czechoslovakia and Hungary.

Location

DeRosa University Center, Room 217

Start Date

21-4-2011 5:00 PM

End Date

21-4-2011 8:00 PM

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Apr 21st, 5:00 PM Apr 21st, 8:00 PM

Crosiers & Communists: The Catholic Church and the Overthrow of Communism

DeRosa University Center, Room 217

Since the end of the Cold War, scholars have devoted countless resources to studying the forces which led to the fall of global Communism and the spread of democracy. To add to the understanding of this topic, I attempt to answer the question: what role did the Catholic Church play in the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe? In order to shed some light on this question I focus on Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Hungary, the three Catholic countries of the Eastern Bloc. By utilizing the relatively new theoretical framework of “ethical civil society” expounded by notable political scientists such as Juan Linz and Alfred Stepan, I illustrate the Church’s role as both a rival source of moral legitimacy to Communist regimes and a cultivator of underground ethical civil society.I test two hypotheses implied by this theory: first, that the strength of civil society increases as the Church’s role within it grows; and second, that as the strength of civil society increases, the collapse of Communism in that country is hastened.Using quantitative and qualitative data quelled from world news reports of the time, scholarly publications, and biographical writings, I will show that the currently available data tentatively supports both hypotheses. I will conclude by arguing, in line with the available data, that the Church successfully fostered an ethical civil society in Poland, leading to the first collapse of a Communist government in that state, while it met with less success in fostering ethical civil society in Czechoslovakia and Hungary.