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Souls at the polls

As the people of Poland prepare to elect a president, the Catholic church wants to influence how they cast their votes. Daniel Passent, of the Polish weekly Polityka, asks whether the new democracy is becoming a theocracy

By Daniel Passent   November 1995

The defeat of godless communism might turn out to be a somewhat bitter victory for the Catholic church in Poland. Exposure to the materialist west is producing unusual challenges for the church, which has enjoyed an ambivalent renaissance since communism began to collapse.

The church is now struggling to establish its authority over as many areas of public life as possible, and is directly involved in November’s presidential elections.

“Let us be frank, the people in Poland have started to fear the priests, ” wrote Czeslaw Milosz, the Nobel prize-winning poet, in 1991. Events during the past four years seem…

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