The Church Against the State
In the early 1970s in Poland, they used to tell a joke about Cardinal Wyszyński conducting a Mass. One man is standing when he should be kneeling. Someone tugs at his sleeve. "Kneel down; why are you standing?" "It's all right, I'm Jewish." "Then what are you doing in church?" "I too am against the authorities."
In those days, the Polish church was the locus for civil resistance. It provided a widespread institutional alternative to communism; the church's struggle for independence during the communist period was the most sustained and effective resistance to the dictates of the party- state. Two great and powerful systems of authority battled against each other, but neither won. The church never defeated the communists outright. (As Stalin once cynically observed, it could not do so without any military divisions.) But the party-state did not win either. To buy some legitimacy in 1956, to give some substance to a more