From the Editor

Sally Boss' comments about the shortcomings of Polish clergy were painfully brought to the editor's attention when a young Polish priest of an intellectual bent, who undertook to write an editorial for the issue on Catholicism, did not deliver. While we agree with her critique of Polish men of the cloth, we are comforted by the fact that sore thumbs are usually more visible than healthy ones, and that not keeping one‘s word is not infrequent in the academic world either.

Catholicism in Poland has made many inroads in the last thousand years, and it probably accounts for a major portion of the "national character." In his memoirs, Cardinal Wyszynski credited the Poles with a lack of vengefulness, a certain serenity which stems from not holding grudges against those who committed monumental crimes in Poland in the twentieth century. One could add that in Polish and Polish American cultures, and in Catholic cultures in general, social relations are permeated with readiness to excuse people for not measuring up, for failing to deliver, for not keeping their word...If someone's career does not come off, hardly anyone blames the person, while most people blame the circumstances. "He fell ill." "His parents were too poor to give him much of a chance." "It was because of the war." While a stricter adherence to the rules of public life would undoubtedly be beneficial for Polish statehood and for Polish American visibility in the marketplace of ideas, indulgence concerning a lack of success contributes to a less stressful atmosphere and lesser alienation than is the case in other milieus.

We are thus circling around the most important contribution of Catholicism to Polish culture: endowing that culture with a sense of right and wrong. It was through countless actions such as those described in Rev. Ihnatowicz's article, that this sense of right and wrong, and of human dignity, took root in Poland.

Sylvia Meloche's article outlines the manifestations of religiosity in a southeast province of Poland. Her description of churches and services summons reflection on those thousands who contributed to their erection financially and otherwise. Thousands of material and spiritual contributions were offered by nameless, impoverished and inarticulate people. There is something profoundly touching in such contributions: beautiful churches arising in areas where people lead most ordinary and humble lives.

We welcome the exchange between Professors Kotarba and Bukowczyk, for out of such exchanges new interpretations of Polish American reality and Polish American needs will hopefully arise. There is no question that the generations of Polish Americans who preceded us have cared too little for public relations and for leaving to their progeny permanent institutions expressing Polish identity. So much more is required of the present generation which has to make up for the shortcomings of the earlier ones.

We are pleased to publish two of Krzysztof Baczynski's poems that have never been translated before. The maturity of this poet who was killed by the Nazis at age 23 never ceases to amaze us. We publish the originals and Professor Alex Kurczaba's fine translation.

Finally, some items from the SR INDEX seem disturbing. If 30 million cars entered Poland in 1995, and if 20 million tourists from non-CIS countries entered (another 20 million came from the CIS), how come gross income from tourism was only $3 billion? That is only $100 per car, or $150 per person (not counting the CIS visitors who would bring these figures further down). Why, the very use of roads and facilities probably costs that much. Perhaps Prime Minister Cimoszewicz’s project of introducing a toll of $1.50 per car should be implemented. However, Bogdan Turek of Reuters (16 July 1996) reports that income from tourism amounted to $7 billion.

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The Sarmatian Review
Last updated 12/20/96