Category: Poland

James Felak on Pope Pius XII, the Wartime Pontiff

In March of 1939, Eugenio MarĂ­a Giuseppe Pacelli became Pope Pius XII just days before the Nazis invaded Czechoslovakia and months before Germany continued their march into Poland. Prof. James Felak (University of Washington) examines the life and times of Pope Pius XII and explores the controversy surrounding his papacy. Interestingly, we learn that criticism of Pope Pius XII’s actions only emerged two decades after World War II. Prof. Felak discusses the difficult diplomatic and moral situation that Pius XII found himself in during the war, lays out the logic of his actions, and then assesses the overall impact (including his post-war proclamations) of Pius XII’s papacy on the contemporary Church Church.

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Robert Woodberry on Missionaries and Democracy

Did Protestant missionaries help plant the seeds of democracy throughout the world? Prof. Robert Woodberry takes us on a historical tour-de-force around the globe showing how “conversionary Protestants” helped to promote literacy, spread printing technology, facilitate civic organization, defend religious and civil liberties, and protest the abuses of slavery and colonialism. We discuss how this happened and why Protestants were uniquely situated to do this, although we look at similar Catholic efforts in recent decades. We conclude with speculative thoughts about the Arab Spring.

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Lan Chu on Catholicism in Vietnam

Is the Catholic Church likely to be a force for political liberalization in Vietnam? Prof. Lan Chu takes up this question and also talks about the history of Catholicism in that country with special attention on how the Church has survived under a communist regime. Our discussion also includes various comparisons with Eastern Europe and Cuba, and Prof. Chu provides some speculation about what the future of Vietnam might look like.

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Daniel Philpott on Religious Resurgence & Democratization

Is the global resurgence in public religiosity over the past 40 years linked in any way to the increase in democratic governance over the same period of time? Prof. Dan Philpott (Notre Dame) covers the historical trends of church-state relations and discusses how changes in political theologies and the increasing independence of religious organizations have provided a fertile ground for political democratization in some corners of the world. We examine how and why some religious traditions have been involved in promoting democracy under authoritarian conditions. Our discussion turns toward some speculation about the future of the “Arab Spring” at the end of our interview. This is the first part of a discussion of the book “God’s Century: Resurgent Religion and Global Politics.”

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James Felak on John Paul II and Communism

University of Washington historian James Felak recounts the formative experiences in Pope John Paul II’s life and how he influenced the collapse of communism in Poland and the Soviet Union.

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