The Catholic Church, civil society, Croatia, Poland, communism, post-communism
The main focus of this study is placed on the Catholic Church and its relationships with civil society and state in communist and post-communist contexts. It is argued that the Catholic Church’s shifting alliances between different interest groups reflects its changing institutional orientation between sect-like and church-like positions. When relations with the state prove unsuccessful, the Church links with the independent groups of civil society. The alliance between the Catholic Church and the forces of civil society is perceived in terms of potential benefits for both: civil society as an alternative meaning system and the Catholic Church as an alternative authority system complement each other in so far as together they generate a greater mass mobilisation.
The Catholic Church is analysed in terms of the sociological studies of secularisation, church-state relations and sectarianism. It is argued that churches are most likely religious organisations to enter into dialogue with power elites for perceived social and political benefits. Particular attention is paid to institutionalisation of the Church and its papal diplomacy since historically the Church sought alliances with the secular interest groups in order to legitimise and secure its (prestigious) social status.
The concept of civil society is developed through exploration of the binding elements between the ideas of civic virtue, citizenship and civil society proper. It is argued that civil society functions on two levels: the macro level of analysis perceived through the notions of civic duties and responsibilities, civil society organisations and modern citizenship; and the micro level of analysis that draws on the culture-area approach and the analysis of social trust.
To illustrate the main argument of dissertation about the complex interrelationships between the Catholic Church, civil society and the state, I provide a comparative analysis of two case studies: Poland and Croatia. Here, it is argued that in the state-socialist context civil society functioned as a ‘parallel society’ beyond and beneath the state control, economic structures and the family/kinship ties.
To sum up, the main argument of the thesis is that the relationship between the Catholic Church and civil society is multifaceted one: although in certain historical circumstances they form alliances, their differing perceptions of social reality and competing and often mutually exclusive political interests result in a divorce and return to their respective social, political and ideological realms. Whether this separation is forced or mutually agreed on largely depends on the nature of political system in question and willingness of the Church to renounce interference in political matters.