Duchowieństwo Kościoła katolickiego w województwie bydgoskim wobec „wyborów” do Sejmu PRL z 26 X 1952 roku
The attitude of the Roman Catholic clergy in the Bydgoszcz province to the “General Elections” for the Seym of 26 X 1952
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The elections for the Seym (the Lower Chamber of Parliament) in 1952 constituted a major event for the authorities of the Polish People’s Republic as they were the first general elections in the country, which a few months before had changed its name from the Republic of Poland to the Polish People’s Republic. They were the only elections to take place in the gloomy times of Stalinism in Poland. Moreover, they were the crowning achievement of the communist party and the political police in their practices to enslave society, which started during the referendum of 1946 and elections for the Seym in 1947. The voting pattern became a model and was not changed until the end of the Polish People’s Republic. Having eliminated the military underground and social opposition in Poland, the Polish United Workers’ Party had only one organized enemy who could effectively oppose its power and the construction of communism – it was the Roman Catholic Church. Its authority in society and disapproval of the system made the authorities of the Polish People’s Republic reduce the activity of the Church and use it to support their policy. The elections to the Seym of the Polish People’s Republic were a part of this process. The article is devoted to the narrow aspect of the relations between the state and the Catholic Church, namely to the attitude of the clergy in the Bydgoszcz province to the elections in October 1952. The article describes the church jurisdiction in the province, the divisions among the clergy according to their attitude towards the new system (they were divided into positive, passive and negative), and the attempts to involve priests in active participation in the election campaign. The article puts emphasis on the propaganda activities of priests supporting the regime, which included their membership in electoral commissions, public speeches and the voting itself. Furthermore it presents the role of the political police in the surveillance of the Catholic Church, and particularly its actions against those clergymen whose attitude towards the new system and elections was negative. The effectiveness of methods and forms to intimidate the clergy resulted in the fact that in the Bydgoszcz province out of 607 priests only 11 ignored the elections. In the same vein out of 867 nuns, only 38 did not vote.
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