THE POLISH CHURCH AND CLERGY IN THE YEARS 1914-1918
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'The specifically objective circumstances of political life during the period' of the WW I enabled the Catholic Church to play an important role in building the cornerstones of new Polish statehood. The Church hierarchy promoted primarily social initiatives. In 1915 the Polish bishops, who unanimously joined a charity campaign, appeared as the episcopate of a single nation, albeit still divided by the frontiers of the partitioning states. A meeting held in Warsaw in 1917 by bishops from all three partition areas was perceived by the partitioning authorities as a sign of the emergence of an independent Poland. The Polish clergy demonstrated significant activity, and the symbol of the assorted initiatives pursued by its representatives was their involvement in the new organs of power as well as political unions and organisations: the Provisional Council of State, the Regency Council, the Central Civic Committee, and the Chief People's Council in the region of Poznan, participation in the debates of the Provincial Sejm in Poznan in 1918, and the wartime work performed by chaplains in all Polish lands. Despite assorted limitations and objective obstacles, as well as the emergence of various conceptions within the Episcopate and the clergy, divided by the three partitions, it would be difficult to envisage the existence of the new Polish state in 1918 without recalling the patriotic and national activity of the Catholic clergy.
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