A recent article in the Polish Leftist newspaper, “Ekstasy” has pointed out that the Roman Catholic clergy in Poland were actively involved in the conversion process, and that in several cases the destruction of religious objects took place. In addition, the State and the Catholic Church are being accused of desecration and destruction of Orthodox churches and prayer houses.
91 Orthodox churches, 26 prayer houses and 10 chapels were destroyed
One of the first religious institutions built in Estonia was the Orthodox church in Tartu. According to some sources, a church in Tallinn was also founded in the 11th century. However, there is no concrete proof of this claim. In any case, the Russian community in Tartu was unable to reconstruct the old Nikolaevskaia Orthodox church.
The oldest surviving church in Estonia is the stone church of St. Paraskeva the Great Martyr in Saatse. It was a tsasson during the last decade of the 17th century. By the early 19th century, it was a wooden sanctuary, sanctified to honour the icon of the Mother of God “Joy to All Sorrowful”.
There are ruins of the ancient Nikolaevskaia church in the medieval main church of the former Roman Catholic convent. A church was probably built near Lake Aheru. Despite this, the tsarist government ensured that Lutheran church was the leading institution among local peasants.
In the 18th century, Russian Capuchins had branches in Astrakhan, Moscow and Saint Petersburg. They had a mission in Riga as well.
Roman Catholic clergy actively participated in conversions to Catholicism
The Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church were divided on the issue of how to move a population from one to the other. During the interwar period, Polish provincial governors had to find ways to cope with this problem. Various government actions were initiated, but the process had a mixed effect.
A number of parishes were established in areas with no Roman Catholic population. The state also opened some closed churches for local needs. In addition, the government reaffirmed its policy of polonization, or moving Orthodox Christians to the Roman Catholic Church.
This was a new and innovative initiative to bring about the renunciation of anti-Semitic teachings and the removal of anti-Semitic terminology. The Association of Saint James helped to develop a new attitude towards Jews, which included the use of Hebrew in preaching.
Several Catholic groups also started producing content in Hebrew. These included books and liturgical documents, but the most notable publishing house was the Franciscan Printing Press. It became the most active multilingual publishing house in Jerusalem.
Cases of destruction and desecration of religious objects
In 1918 the Polish government issued a decree that placed all assets of the Orthodox Church in Poland under state administration. The decree was justified because it was necessary to protect the church in the aftermath of World War I. It lasted until the end of the war.
The Russian army took Orthodox church equipment with them during the war. Many Orthodox clergy left the country. Some churches were converted into public buildings. Others were closed and demolished.
Some of the symbols of the Orthodox church were also demolished. The largest church in the country had been a granary until the 1930s. One church in Skierniewice was turned into a scrap yard.
A number of cases of destruction and desecration of religious objects by Polish orthodox christians were noted by authors in the following years. They include the demolition of churches, the transfer of symbols from one church to another and the creation of a new, Roman Catholic church.
Leftist Polish newspapers condemn actions of the State and the Catholic Church
The Catholic Church had to face serious threats in the early 1990s. While the government tried to improve the Church’s reputation, opposition from various groups arose. There were also criticisms in the foreign press.
In Poland, the Church faced a number of difficulties, ranging from the nationalization of its property to the implementation of marriage legislation. As a result, the relationship between the Church and State became increasingly strained. It was especially problematic during the ecclesiastical preparations for a millennium of Christianity in Poland.
During the period of German-Soviet Pact, the Church had to deal with a new political environment. Polish bishops supported the Catholic tradition during this time. But in the years after the Soviets came to power, the Catholic Church found itself under pressure from the state. During the first two decades of communist rule, the government began its Polonization of the Church.
From 1919 to 1939, a series of actions were carried out by the government, namely the Revindication of Orthodox Churches in the Second Polish Republic. These actions were condemned by leftist Polish newspapers.