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Reconciliation in Bloodlands

Assessing Actions and Outcomes in Contemporary Central-Eastern Europe

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Edited By Jacek Kurczewski

Central-Eastern Europe, in the mid-20 th century, was a scene of Holocaust, mass killings, war, deportations and forced resettlements under the competing totalitarian invasions and afterwards. It was also the area where churches, politicians and citizens were engaged in reconciliation between antagonized religions and nations. This book presents several attempts to heal relations between Poles, Jews, Germans, Czechs, Ukrainians, Russians and Latvians as well as between Catholics, Protestants and Mariavites. Re-conciliatory practices of John Paul II and other Catholic leaders as well as Protestant churches are analysed in the first part of the book. Most of the remaining studies are focused on particular localities in Upper Silesia, Cieszyn Silesia, former Polish Livland and on the Polish-Ukrainian borderland. These detailed contributions combine sociological methods with anthropological insight and historical context. The authors are sociologists, psychologists and theologians and this leads to a fully interdisciplinary approach in the assessment of the recent state of inter-group relations in the region as well as in the proposed theory of peacebuilding and reconciliation.
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Young People of Cieszyn Silesia in Interfaith Dialogue

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Contemporary society’s religious and ideological diversification and persistent tendency towards further sectarian splits and faith-based conflicts call for initiatives that lead to the reconciliating of antagonistic positions and also search for unification-orientated platforms and schemes modelled after Jesus’ words “that all of them may be one” (John 17.21 NIV).

This unity-orientated approach has never been an easy task among early Christian churches. It is made even more difficult in today’s postmodern society, which is embedded with diversity and fragmentation. Generally speaking, it may seem that unification is impossible to achieve. But, if one were to look at today’s Christian churches specifically, one would see that there may be some chance of accepting the concepts of unity in diversity and diversity in unity. Although in the past these concepts first appeared among Protestant churches, nowadays people actively work to discover unity through diversity within the diverse array of Christian church denominations such as Roman Catholic, Russian Orthodox, and Protestant.

Today’s ecumenism (seen as the task of unifying the faithful) is not understood as the work that brings all the faithful people under the authority of the one and only established mother church, that is the Roman Catholic Church. Rather, the Second Vatican Council defines ecumenical initiatives as work that encourages all the faithful people to return to Jesus Christ, who is at the centre of today’s type of ecumenism. Walter Kasper, who is a German cardinal responsible for promoting Christian unity, puts Christ at the centre of...

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