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966 – revisited. Poland’s Baptism as an Element of the Theology of the Nation.
International academic conference

Warsaw, 14th November 2013

Janusz Kurtyka Educational Centre of the Institute of National Remembrance, 21/25 Marszałkowska Street, Warsaw



The leading thought of the conference will be the illustration of the influence of the Baptism of Poland on the creation of a unique Polish national theology and the historical identity of Poles. The session will attempt to present the influence of Holy Sacraments ¬– and Baptism in particular, as an experience of Christian initiation – on the shaping of the Polish identity and the creation of a community feature of Polish religiousness that has been able to evolve into durable social institutions. The Polish example is a hint as to how theological experience can merge with phenomena observed in social sciences and the sociology of the nation in particular.

Poland’s Baptism during Mieszko I’s reign basically started the history of the Polish national and cultural community. Apart from bringing Poland into the circle of Europe’s Christian societies, it merged Poles into a community that is conscious of their aims and goals and is linked by their joint participation in Christian mysteries. In this conference, starting from the experience of Baptism, we will attempt to review the making of social institutions inspired by Sacraments.

One of the most interesting conclusions that our session will try to focus on will be the revitalisation of the experience of Baptism by Polish 20th century bishops, starting from Cardinal August Hlond, through the magnum opus in the shape of the celebration of the 1000th anniversary of Poland’s Baptism, initiated by Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński. Never before had the anniversary of Poland’s Baptism been celebrated in such a well-planned and disciplined way. The millennium as revitalised Baptism aimed to strengthen Poles’ identity and self-recognition created the foundation of a civic society that spurred a mass Solidarity movement a decade later. This movement was preceded by revitalising another Sacrament – the renowned “Confirmation of times” made during John Paul II’s first pilgrimage to Poland in 1979, which soon irreversibly altered the shape of this part of the world. The revitalising of Confirmation was accompanied by the revitalisation of yet another Sacrament – the Eucharist.

Stage by stage, the conference will attempt to show the historical aspects of strengthening the Polish identity through the celebration of the millennium of Poland’s Baptism and – via a sociological panel – will analyse the absorption of the celebration by the nation and its social consequences (Solidarity, the phenomenon of Papal pilgrimages). The final link of the conference will be the reflection on theology as an essential element of understanding society which significantly influences the reality.



9.30 – Opening

10.00 – 12.00
Part I
Theology as a force for shaping reality

  • Professor Tracey Rowland (John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family, Melbourne) Theology as a social force
  • Neil Turnbull PhD (Nothingam Trent University) Theology and/as a Cultural Critique
  • Tadeusz Szawiel PhD (Warsaw University) Theology and Way of Life

12.00 – 12.30 coffee break

12.30 – 15.00

Part II
Theology in action – The Millennium of the Baptism of Poland

  • Ewa K. Czaczkowska PhD (Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University, Warsaw) The Great Novena – a national spiritual retreat (1957 – 1965)
  • Professor Jan Żaryn (Institute of National Remembrance, Warsaw) The Millennial Year – message and impact
  • Rev. Professor Jerzy Lewandowski (Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University, Warsaw) An ecclesial pedagogy of the nation in affirming life, according to the thought of Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński
  • Mateusz Hurysz (Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań) The Protomillenium. The unknown celebrations of the 950th anniversary of the Baptism of Poland in the Archdiocese of Gniezno and Poznan in the shadow of the ongoing World War I

15.00 – 15.30 refreshments

15.30 – 18.00
Part III
Theology of the nation – experiences and challenges

  • Professor Manfred Spieker (Universität Osnabrück) Nation and religion
  • Rev. Professor Alfred Wierzbicki (The John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin) The Polish Millennium as a paradigm of the commemoration of the baptism of nations in the context of the new evangelization of Europe
  • Paweł Skibiński PhD (The John Paul II and Cardinal Wyszynski Museum, Warsaw University) The nation in John Paul II’s vision of the history – the case of Poland
  • Michał Sokulski (Apocalyptic Magazine 44, Szczecin) The national messianism of John Paul II during his pilgrimages to the fatherland



Ewa K. Czaczkowska PhD, journalist, historian, founder of the portal Areopag21.pl, adjunct in the Institute of Media Education and Journalism UKSW; for over 20 years she was linked to the daily newspaper “Rzeczpospolita”, she currently publishes in many periodicals. The author of several books: Kardynał Wyszyński. Biografia (Cardinal Wyszyński – A Biography); Siostra Faustyna. Biografia Świętej (Sister Faustina – The Biography of a Saint); Kościół XX wieku (The Church in the 20th Century). Winner of the journalism award, “Trace”, dedicated to the memory of Bishop Jan Chrapka, as well as of two awards from the Association of Catholic Publishers (Stowarzyszenie Wydawców  Katolickich).

Mateusz Hurysz, third year doctoral candidate in the History Department of the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań. Teacher of history and society, education for family life, and tutor in Primary School nr 1 in Poznań. Recipient of archdiocesan and University scholarships. Hurysz has published texts in Kronika Miasta Poznania (Chronical of the City of Poznań), and Przegląd Wielkopolski (Wielkopolski Review)

Rev Professor Jerzy Lewandowski, Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University in Warsaw, member of the Polish Society of Dogmatists, the Polish Society of Canonists, the Polish Advisory Committee to the Communio international theological journal. Since 1981 a permanent associate of Swiss academic publisher Peter Lang. The author of Naród w dziejach zbawienia (The Nation in the Ages of Salvation) (2001), Narod w nauczaniu Kardynala Stefana Wyszyńskiego (The Nation in the Teachings of Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński), 2nd, amended edition (1989).

Professor Tracey Rowland, John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family (Melbourne), adjunct Professor, University of Notre Dame, Sydney and Member of the Centre for Theology and Philosophy, University of Nottingham. Member of the Editorial Board of the Communio journal. The author of Ratzinger’s Faith: The Theology of Benedict XVI (2010) and numerous academic papers.

Paweł Skibiński PhD, Polish historian and political scientist. Director of the Museum of John Paul II and Primate Stefan Wyszyński in Warsaw,  adjunct professor in the History Institute of the University of Warsaw, affiliated to the Polish History Museum. His research interests include the contemporary history of Poland and Spain (he was a fellow at the University of Navarre in Pamplona in 1999). His works include The State of General Franco: the Spanish regime in 1936 – 1967 (Państwo generała Franco: ustrój Hiszpanii w latach 1936–1967). Member of the Editorial Board of the quarterly „Konserwatysta”.

Michał Sokulski, collaborator in the apocalyptic journal “44” („Czterdzieści i Cztery”), graduated in Theology and Polish Philology from the University of Szczecin.

Professor  Manfred Spieker, Universität Osnabrück, sociologist and theologian, for many years the President of the Association Internationale pour l’Enseignement Social Chretien and an accredited observer of the Holy See to the Council of Europe’s Steering Committee on Social Policy. The author of Der verleugnete Rechtsstaat. Anmerkungen zur Kultur des Todes in Europa (2005), Kirche und Abtreibung in Deutschland (2000), Katholiken in der Politik. Das Beispiel Polen und Deutschland (1998).

Tadeusz Szawiel PhD,  sociologist, researcher at the Sociology Institute of the University of Warsaw. President of the Institute of Studies on the Foundations of Democracy (Instytut Badań nad Podstawami Demokracji). Author and co-author of several books, including: Anatomia elit politycznych. Partie polityczne w postkomunistycznej Polsce 1991-1993 (Anatomy of the Political Elites. Political parties in postcommunist Poland in 1991-1993); Budowanie demokracji. Podziały społeczne, partie polityczne i społeczeństwo obywatelskie w postkomunistycznej Polsce (Building  democracy. Social divisions, political parties and civil society in post-communist Poland); Pokolenie JP2. Przeszłość i przyszłość zjawiska religijnego (The JPII Generation: the past and future of a religious phenomenon). Member of the Advisory Board of the Archive of the History of Philosophy and Social Thought (Archiwum Historii Filozofii i Myśli Społecznej).

Neil Turnbull PhD, Notthingam Trent University, philosophy lecturer. His interests include the philosophy of science, religion and mind.The author of the Ontological Consequences of Copernicus: Global Being in the Planetary World, Theory Culture & Society (2006) and Thinking and the Art of Furniture, Space and Culture (2004). Editor-in-chief of the Radical Orthodoxy.

Rev. Professor Alfred Wierzbicki, Chair of Ethics in the Philosophy Department of the Catholic University of Lublin (KUL). He has lectured in the philosophy of Karol Wojtyła at the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome, as well as ethics at the University of Parma and at the University of Sassari. He has served as director of the KUL Institute of John Paul II and as the Editor-in-Chief of the quarterly journal „Ethos”. Author and editor of numerous books (including literary works) and academic papers.

Professor Jan Żaryn, Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University, historian, worked at the Institute of National Remembrance. He has published articles in numerous journals, including Acta Poloniae Historica, Kwartalnik Historyczny and Więź. He is the editor-in-chief of the Na Poważnie journal. His publications include Kościół a władza w Polsce. 1945–1950 (The Church versus Poland’s authorities between 1945 and 1950) (1997), Dzieje Kościoła katolickiego w Polsce 1944-1989 (The History of the Polish Catholic Church between 1944 and 1989) (2003), Kościół w PRL (The Church in Communist Poland) (2004), Kościół, naród, człowiek, czyli opowieść optymistyczna o Polakach w XX wieku (The Church, the Nation and the Man or an Optimistic Tale of Poles in the 20th Century) (2013).







Opublikowano 04.11.2013


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