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Polish Modus vivendi (1950) : Text

This was the first agreement between the Vatican and a Communist state. Never published in the official gazette, this pragmatic arrangement was meant to grant secret concessions on both sides in order to set no precedent. In return for supporting the Polish Communists (and preventing disturbances that could bring in Russian tanks), the state permitted the Church to retain more influence than in other Communist countries.

Protocol (1974)

After the pope devised a face-saving way to open up talks with the Communists in 1961, there followed agreements in 1964 with Hungary, in 1966 with Yugoslavia and in 1974 this one with Poland. The same process is still being carried out today, with, for instance, the Vietnam-Vatican Joint Working Group, established on 16-17 February 2009 with a view to establishing diplomatic relations.

Convention (1988): Text of the suppressed agreement

This was a “convention”, not a concordat, as it was signed by a Polish Archbishop and not by a representative of the Vatican. This ill-timed agreement was “annulled” ― ostensibly due to  socio-political changes, to which the Church “wished” to adapt ― when the Church realised that it could soon get a far better terms after the collapse of Communism.  With this, the Convention was regarded as void.

Draft Concordat of 1991: Text and commentary

This draft concordat remained unpublished until it was leaked more than ten years later. Shortly after it was drawn up it was replaced by a new draft which was also kept secret ― even from the members of parliament who were to vote on it ― until it had already been signed.

Papal signing authority for the concordat (7 July 1993)

The final step before the signing was the “power of attorney”, the papal authorisation of the nuncio to Poland to act on his behalf. For this was no unofficial “protocol”, like the 1950 Modus vivendi between the Polish episcopate and the Communists, but rather a full-fledged concordat.

Polish concordat (1993) : Text and criticism

Lauded by Pope John Paul II as a model for other post-communist countries, this concordat was drawn up before the new constitution. Thus the Polish legal framework had to conform to the concordat, not vice versa and there could be no constitutional separation of church and state. 

“Interpretation” of the Concordat (1998)

This is a timid unilateral attempt by the Polish Government to “interpret” some of the more politically controversial items in the concordat. In the debate in the Polish parliament it was said that the Vatican promised orally to include this Polish contribution in the concordat text as a standard “protocol”, but later declined to do so.

Concordat sequel: Border Guard chaplaincy agreement (2007)

This is not a concordat with the Vatican, but an agreement with the Polish episcopate, which shelters under the concordat. This pact between the Military Bishop and the Polish Border Guard enumerates the privileges for the Church but fails to itemise the costs for the taxpayers.

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