In the text, Polish Catholicism is understood as something broader than membership of the Polish Church. Polish Catholicism expresses a set of ideological behaviour and ideological values that affect both the manifestations of religious beliefs and principles of the Catholic faith, as well as a combination of these values with Polishness. This issue is placed within certain time frames, from the period of the partitions, through the interwar period, the war followed by communist rule, and ending with the subsequent independence. There is no doubt that each of these periods brought different circumstances, which also influenced the formation of Polish Catholicism. At the time of the partitions Catholicism retrenched the Polishness of a society exposed to pressure from the Russian Orthodox and Protestant Prussia. Clearly, it assumed different characteristics under the rule of the Habsburgs, strongly confronted with a radical social movement, especially in the Galician countryside. However, this politically difficult period of Polish history contributed towards shaping a conservative Catholicism resistant to religious novelties and left-wing influences. During the interwar period Polish Catholicism followed the same path, although it was exposed to left-liberal confrontation which dominated some aspects of life, i.e. upbringing. However, at the same time, vibrant Catholic activists (The Catholic Action) grew in strength and, although strongly decimated during the German occupation, was able to bear the consequences, enough to prevent the uprooting of catholicity from social life during the Polish People's Republic. Although the role of the hierarchy (Cardinal Wyszynski) and clergy was decisive in this respect, survival and successful development would have been impossible without the support of the Catholic community.
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