After the conference: Inspirations – Challenges – Postulates

After the conference: Inspirations – Challenges – Postulates


The history of the 100 years since the restoration of independence has shown us different forms of freedom, sovereignty and the rule of law, which have made and continue to make a significant contribution to the development of the reborn Poland. These particularly include the ones that co-shape: (1) cultural, (2) family, (3) civic, (4) economic and (5) political sphere of life of our national and state community. At the same time, they also make us aware of the importance of the principle of a lawful state and the principle of social pluralism in shaping the social order that actually and not just declaratively take into account the social nature of man.

Inspirations from Catholic social teaching on the subject of sovereignty, freedom and the rule of law

  1. Cultural sovereignty of a national community

The cultural sovereignty of every nation, as was emphatically emphasized by John Paul II in a speech at the UNESCO headquarters on 2 June 1980, is among its fundamental rights. This kind of sovereignty necessarily implies respect for the freedom and right of every nation to its own culture in which it expresses itself and lives.

According to John Paul II, the requirement to respect cultural sovereignty of every nation “is not an echo of any ‘nationalism’, but a permanent element of human experience and humanistic perspectives of mankind. Basic sovereignty of people is expressed in the culture of their nation. It is also sovereignty that makes people the most sovereign at the same time.” (John Paul II, The future of man depends on culture, speech at the headquarters of UNESCO in Paris on 2 June 1980, No. 14).

  1. Spiritual and social sovereignty of family communities

The family, “as a community of love and life, […] is in its way a sovereign community, although at the same time it is a multi-dependant community.” (John Paul II, Gratissima letter sent to families in Family Year 1994, 17).

With regard to national community and its cultural sovereignty, “the family participates in national heritage of culture, contributing to the specific sovereignty that nation owes to its culture and language.” Namely to its spiritual sovereignty and in this way also: “through its culture, its own language, not only nations but every family as well find their spiritual sovereignty. “(Letter to families …, 17).

  1. Civic sovereignty of society

The civic sovereignty of people is a sovereignty which they express in the power to determine its common good as well as in the right to participate in governing and responsibility.

“There is no […] true sovereignty of a state in which the people are not sovereign: when they have no possibility of co-deciding on the common good, when they are denied the fundamental right to participate in governing and responsibility.” (John Paul II, Message to the Polish Bishops’ Conference on 50th anniversary of the outbreak of the Second World War, 26 July 1989, No. 4).

A particularly important manifestation of this kind of sovereignty is territorial self-government of people and various forms of their formal and informal self-organization in organizations and non-governmental initiatives (associations, foundations, clubs, circles, forums, etc.) which are referred to as the “third sector”.

  1. Economic sovereignty of citizens and their national communities

This kind of individual and communal sovereignty stands for both one of the basic human rights and rights of individual nations, namely their right to business initiative which allows creative expressions of their respective subjectivity in the sphere of entrepreneurship.

“It should be noticed that in today’s world – among many human rights – the right to business initiative is limited; this is important not only for the individual, but also for the common good. Experience shows that negating this right, limiting it in the name of alleged “equality” of everyone in the society, actually eliminates and even destroys entrepreneurship, or the creative subjectivity of the citizen. […] Hence the feeling of frustration or hopelessness, lack of involvement in national life, inclination to emigrate, even the so-called internal emigration. “(John Paul II, Sollicitudo rei socialis, No. 15.)

The principle of a lawful state

In terms of Catholic social teaching, a proper organization of society is based on “three powers – legislative, executive and judicial […]. This order reflects a realistic vision of the social nature of man which requires appropriate legislation to protect the freedom of everyone. Therefore, it is advisable that each power should be balanced by the other powers and other areas of competence that would keep in within bounds. This is the principle of the “rule of law” in which the law rather than lawlessness of people has most power. “(John Paul II, Centesimus annus, no. 44).

The principle of pluralism in social life

“[…] it should be emphasized that no social group, for instance no party, has the right to usurp the role of the only guide, as this would imply, like in the case of any totalitarianism, the destruction of the real subjectivity of the society and people who are citizens. Man and nation become an “object” in this kind of system despite all declarations and verbal assurances.” (John Paul II, Sollicitudo rei socialis, No. 15.)


  1. a) In the sphere of cultural sovereignty of the national community

Protection, daily implementation and creative development of the spiritual, cultural sovereignty and freedom of the Polish national community and our civic commitment to them.  “To sum up a century of our history, we must jointly ask ourselves about the most basic, cultural dimensions of our sovereignty, freedom and the rule of law, as the Society, the Nation and the State. About their condition and the challenges and threats facing them in the national and international dimension, as well as about the commitment of each of us regarding their protection, everyday implementation and creative development.” (Jarosław Gowin)

Preserving personal, spiritual freedom, sovereignty and the rule of law of the Poles. “We should likewise ask ourselves individually about the condition of this fundamentally important dimension in our personal life, our spiritual freedom, sovereignty and the rule of law.” (Jarosław Gowin)

The necessity to avoid the danger of two threats facing Polish sovereignty: (1) isolationism or (2) dissolving in supranational structures. (Prof. Zdzisław Krasnodębski)

  1. b) In the spiritual and social sphere of sovereignty of family communities

An urgent need for the society and the state to recognize the inalienable rights of the family, its identity and social subjectivity, as well as their protection. “The family, by its nature of a community free with the freedom of conjugal and parental love and sovereign in decision-making about its shape expects the society and the state to recognize its identity and accept its social subjectivity. It expects recognition and protection of its inalienable fundamental rights, which are nowadays questioned by various ideologies (such as, for example, the gender ideology), to the detriment of both families themselves and of the national and state communities that they co-create. “(Jarosław Gowin)


  1. c) In the sphere of civic sovereignty of society

The necessity to diagnose the civic sovereignty of the Polish society. “Initiating in today’s conference our reflection on the Polish form of freedom, sovereignty and the rule of law, we must analyse the subjectivity and sovereignty of the Polish society, paying special attention to the basic prerogatives of a truly sovereign society according to John Paul II, and thus to the state, that is the society’s ‘potential to decide on the common good, as well as its ‘right to participate in governing and responsibility’, prerogatives that set the trend for responsible empowerment of every society and state that not only has a desire to sovereign self-determination, but also wants to do it wisely.” (Jarosław Gowin)



  1. a) Concerning the personal and communal sphere of sovereignty, freedom and the rule of law

“I am convinced that one cannot be a fully free, sovereign and law-abiding nation, capable not only of looking with hope into any future, but also of finding the strength to mould it, without spiritual freedom, sovereignty and the rule of law of those who co-create it.” (Jarosław Gowin)

“The Polish ethos of independence should be rekindled, creatively preserving our heritage in this respect and taking into account the current internal and external conditions of Poland.” (Prof. Zdzisław Krasnodębski)

  1. b) Concerning the spiritual and social sovereignty of family communities

“I fully endorse the appeal of John Paul II made nearly 25 years ago (1994), as addressed to today’s Polish society and the state; it remains valid and was formulated in a letter to families all over the world. In it the pope asked to support the family, ‘so that it could be recognized as the basic community structure and in a sense ‘sovereign’, stressing that this kind of family sovereignty is essential ‘for the good of the society.’” (Jarosław Gowin).

  1. c) Concerning historical remembrance of sovereignty, freedom and the rule of law

“Remembrance is not only about living in the past, but about asking the present how to implement values, cultivate ideals, patterns of life and behaviour.” (Tomasz Homa SJ, Professor of AIK).