“In contrast to nationalism – patriotism is an attitude worthy of cultivating”, wrote Archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki, President of the Polish Episcopate in a letter entitled “Nationalism and patriotism”, in which he draws the difference between these two concepts, on the occasion of the “XXI Day of Judaism in the Catholic Church in Poland”, celebrated on January 17, 2018, and in the year of the 100th anniversary of Poland’s regaining independence.
In the letter, the President of the Episcopate presents briefly four types of nationalism: integral, Christian, secular, neopagan and chauvinism, considered as an extreme form of nationalism. Their common feature is the belief that “the nation is the highest good”. Meanwhile, “the Catholic Church critically perceives nationalism, because putting the nation at the top of the hierarchy of values can lead to some kind of idolatry”, notes the President of the Bishops’ Conference. Pope Pius XI warned against such a mistake in the Encyclical “Mit brennender Sorge” in 1937.
Archbishop Gadecki emphasizes that in contrast to nationalism – patriotism is an attitude worthy of cultivating. “The Christian lives deeply involved in the lives of individual nations and is a sign of the Gospel also in fidelity to his homeland, his nation, national culture, but always in the freedom which Christ brought to us (St. John Paul II, Redemptoris misio, 43), without feelings of reluctance towards other nations”, notes the President of the Polish Episcopate.
In recent years, the Conference of the Polish Episcopate has published two documents on the contemporary challenges of patriotism. In 2012, Polish bishops stressed that patriotism becomes an element of order and peace, when it is built on faith and the command to love one’s neighbor. Last year, The Christian shape of patriotism was published, in which the bishops draw attention to the fact that in the situation of deep political dispute that divides Poland, the patriotic duty also seems to be “commitment to the work on social reconciliation by reminding the truth about the dignity of every human being, relieving excessive political emotions, pointing and widening fields of possible and necessary for Poland cooperation over divisions and protection of public life against unnecessary politicization”.
The President of the Polish Episcopate also noted that in the context of the new generation of Polish national milieus that refer to the postulates of pre-war National Democracy, “in which on the one hand we have people with nationalistic views who follow the slogan ‘Poland [solely] for Poles’, on the other hand – people with patriotic views, it is needed further formation”, writes Archbishop Gadecki.
“I wish all my compatriots at home and abroad that the 100th anniversary of Poland’s independence strengthen in us the love of the homeland in the spirit of true patriotism”, writes the President of the Polish Episcopate.