The Roman Catholic Church and Human Rights in Poland

  • Katarzyna Zielińska


For a long time, the Roman Catholic Church had a problem with coming to terms with both democracy as a political system and the norm and concept of human rights. Generally speaking, the difficulties were an outcome of the incompatibilities between understanding of the concept of rights in the classical natural law tradition of the Catholic Church and in the theories of natural rights of Thomas Hobbes, John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. The ambivalent attitude of the Roman Catholic Church towards democracy and human rights started to change gradually only in the twentieth century, and particularly so with the Second Vatican Council. Nonetheless, various tensions still persist in several areas.

Poland, with its profound transformations resulting from post-socialist democratization and its strong religious identity as well as the public presence of the Roman Catholic Church, offers an interesting case study for discussing these tensions. The article focuses on two areas that are particularly problematic from the Church’s point of view: freedom of religion and women’s rights. These case studies are preceded by a general introduction to the issues of human rights and religion in Poland.


Human rights Poland Roman Catholic Church Women’s rights Freedom of religion 



This study was funded by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of Poland as part of the project ‘Religion in the Polish Politics in the Context of European Integration’ (no. 5535/B/H03/2011/40).


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of SociologyJagiellonian UniversityKrakówPoland

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