This paper analyzes the attitudes of the Roman Catholic Church in Poland towards the Jews and anti-Semitism during the first decade since the political transformation of 1989–1990. After discussing briefly the main patterns of the development of the Roman Catholic Church in Poland in the modern era I examine two opposing positions within the institutionalized Roman Catholic Church—the ‘Open Church’ and the ‘Closed Church’—dthat emerged in the aftermath of Poland’s regaining full sovereignty in 1989. The ‘Open Church’ and the ‘Closed Church’ represent opposite views on the role of the church in society and on the dialogue with Jews and Judaism and on anti-Semitism.
The ‘Open Church’ is a relatively recent phenomenon that originated in the circles of the layman progressive Catholic intelligentsia in the post-1945 period. It is the first visible formation within Roman Catholic Church in Poland, which advocates dialogue with Jews and Judaism and is engaged in the eradication of anti-Semitic attitudes. The ‘Closed Church,’ which represents the formation of the ‘besieged fortress’ was historically strongly intertwined with the exclusivist ethno-nationalistic political movement of the National Democracy. The remnants of this fusion were still visible in the statements of high rank clergy in the 1990s and early 2000. This formation ignores the concept of the dialogue with Jews and Judaism advocated by Pope John Paul II and among its supporters there are still many holders of anti-Semitic views. The paper provides various examples of anti-Semitic occurrences and pronouncements of the 1990s and it discusses various initiatives aimed at the facilitating dialogue between Christians and Jews introduced by the members of the ‘Open Church’ in the 1990s. It assess the importance of the ‘Open Church’ in the eradication of anti-Semitic views and the extent of the influence of the ‘Closed Church’ on both the clergy and Catholic community at large.