The Reawakening of Christian Civilization in Eastern Europe
First, let’s look at what happened recently in Poland. In a ceremony at the Church of Divine Mercy in Krakow last November 19th, the Catholic Bishops of Poland, in the presence of President Andreiz Duda and many Catholic pilgrims, officially recognized Jesus Christ as the King of Poland and called upon Him to rule over their nation, its people and their political leaders.
At the mass, they prayed "Immortal King of Ages Lord Jesus Christ, our God and Savior, bowing our heads before You, King of the Universe, we acknowledge Thy dominion over Poland, those living in our homeland and throughout the world. Wishing to worship the majesty of Thy power and glory, with great faith and love, we cry out: Rule us, Christ!"
This ceremony was repeated at many Polish cathedrals and parishes on the following Sunday, which was the feast of Christ the King in the Catholic liturgical calendar. The liturgical prayers dedicating the nation to Jesus Christ involved litanies such as: “In our hearts, Rule us, Christ! In our families, Rule us, Christ! ... In our schools and universities, Rule us, Christ! ... Through the Polish nation, rule us, Christ!” The priest went on to pray: “We pledge to defend Your holy worship and preach Thy royal glory,” and the people responded: “Christ our King, we promise!” Again: “We pledge to do Your will and protect the integrity of our consciences, Christ our King, we promise! We pledge to care for the sanctity of our families and the Christian education of children, Christ our King, we promise!”
The fact that this liturgy was conducted with the President of Poland in attendance was the fruit of the most recent rounds of elections that put Polish nationalists in charge, who emphasized Poland’s sovereignty in light of European Union and Eurasian pressures. And this re-Christianization of Poland is currently corroborated with a brand new effort to ban abortion almost entirely from the nation as well.
Hungary and Croatia
Of interest as well is what’s going on is the pro-life, pro-family revolutions going on in Hungary and Croatia. Since coming into office in 2010, the Prime Minister of Hungary – Viktor Orban has led the way to ratifying Hungary’s constitution to define marriage as a union between man and woman; he’s been on the forefront of pro-life legislation, and has brought back religious education in Hungary’s public schools.
And in Croatia, a recent study found that belief in God among Croats has risen from 39 percent in 1989 to 75 percent in 1996 and 82 percent in 2004. Further, even though Croatia’s population has for a number of reasons declined over the years, the amount of priests studying in seminary has actually remained unchanged.1 And we further see the moral maturity of Croats in their overwhelming support to amend their national constitution to defined marriage as between a man and woman – nearly 65 percent of the population voted to keep so called same-sex marriage permanently out of Croatia.
In Georgia, there was a relatively recent backlash against the pro-Western, pro-EU government which sought to take Eastern Orthodox curriculum out of the public schools, which galvanized Orthodox groups such as the Orthodox Parents’ Union. When the elections of 2012 came along, a far more traditionalist government was elected that reinstituted Eastern Orthodox education into the public schools, where icons and Orthodox crosses are displayed throughout the school buildings. And this has been accompanied by the Georgian Orthodox Church’s campaign to revitalize the family, with significant results: Georgia has gone from having one of the lowest birthrates in Eastern Europe to now one of the highest.
In Russia, there have been over 15,000 churches rebuilt since the end of communism. Article 148 of the Russian criminal code, which Vladimir Putin signed in June of 2013, threatens prison sentences of up to three years for “insulting the feelings of Christian believers.” And on the very day that law was passed, a law was approved that prohibits so-called “homosexual propaganda.” And of course, the laws against offending the church were used to incarcerate the punk rock band Pussy Riot when they desecrated two churches with lewd and inappropriate behavior. Putin has banned abortion ads, and signed legislation banning abortion after 12 weeks of pregnancy, all the while the Russian Orthodox Church is calling for an all-out ban of abortions.
So, we are seeing some very impressive examples of the reawakening of Christian civilization in Eastern Europe, and it’s just par for the course of the re-traditionalization that’s going on all over the world in response to the virulently anti-cultural, anti-traditional dynamics of secular globalization. I think we can expect only more examples of this re-Christianization throughout Eastern Europe in the foreseeable future, with an eye toward comparable re-traditionalizing trends in Western Europe and the U.S. as well, increasing significantly the prospective for a post-secular future on the horizon.