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Symposium on ‘Catholic Activism Behind the Iron Curtain’

A University of Virginia symposium on “Catholic Activism Behind the Iron Curtain” will examine how the sophisticated religious activism of Roman Catholic clergy and laity played a central role in resisting and eventually undermining Communist rule in Eastern Europe.

The symposium, open to the public with lunch and refreshments provided, will take place Friday from 9 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. in the Garrett Hall Commons, said event organizer Piotr H. Kosicki, associate director of the Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies in the College of Arts & Sciences, which is co-sponsoring the event as part of the center’s Polish Lecture Series.

The symposium will focus on religious activism in Communist-era Poland, including theological responses to Stalinism and de-Stalinization; contacts with religious organizations in the West; the transformation of Catholic-Jewish relations; and the involvement of Catholic laity in politics, the press and labor activism.

(Full schedule and details here.)

Panel discussion leaders will include Kosicki, a lecturer and American Council of Learned Societies faculty fellow in the Corcoran Department of History; and Maciej Kozlowski, the former Polish ambassador to Israel and the former chargé d'affaires at the Polish Embassy in Washington, D.C. Kozlowski is the author of “Difficult Questions in the Polish-Jewish Dialogue.”

The symposium will launch a two-week public exhibition in Nau Hall on Jerzy Turowicz, founding editor of Tygodnik Powszechny (“General Weekly”), the only independent Catholic newspaper to survive the entire Communist period behind the Iron Curtain. The newspaper launched the publishing career of the future Pope John Paul II.

Other event co-sponsors include U.Va.’s Institute of the Humanities and Global Cultures; the Virginia Center for the Study of Religion; the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures; the Corcoran Department of History; and the local St. Anselm Institute for Catholic Thought. The U.Va. Polish Lecture Series is endowed by the Rosenstiel Foundation and the American Institute of Polish Culture.

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