At The American Conservative, Rod Dreher, traveling in Poland, highlights the beauty of the country and its people, but notes the crisis in its church, and the political division in the country. He writes (abridged):
I’m about to leave Poland, headed back home. Flight out of Krakow boards in a few minutes. I wanted to say a couple of things before I head out.
First, I can’t overstate how much I have enjoyed being in this country. The people are so warm, the culture so rich, the food so delicious. Since I’ve started this new book project, I’ve been able to spend time among the peoples of countries that for much of my life, I never imagined I would be able to visit, because they were behind the Iron Curtain. Let me encourage my fellow Americans to travel to Poland, Czechia, Slovakia, Hungary, and other countries that we call “Eastern Europe” (which, note well, they hate, because it’s a Cold War framework imposed on them). There is so much to learn here, and so much to love If you’re an American who loves to travel in Europe, and you only know the UK, France, Germany, and the other familiar countries, then you only know half of Europe.
Second, I must admit that I did not foresee the sense of cultural crisis that exists in Poland, but which now, after nine days here, is undeniable. I had a number of conversations in Warsaw and in greater Krakow, with laity and clergy, with middle-aged people and young ones. Almost everyone I spoke to expressed deep concern about the direction of the country, and awareness that it’s at a crossroads.
Those with whom I spoke who oppose the populist government really hate it, with the same passion that progressives hate Trump back in the US. Some of the conservatives I talked to are reluctant supporters of the government, but all of them, even the unconflicted supporters, worry about the deep political division within the country. As in other liberal democracies, the splits among political factions are widening into a chasm.
The most concerning thing to me, and to my interlocutors (almost all of whom were practicing Catholics), is the state of the faith, and specifically of the institutional Catholic Church.
This is the most surprising thing for an American like me to hear, because many of us have been accustomed, since the days of John Paul II, to thinking of Poland as a bastion of popular Christianity. The “Alas For Fortress Poland” sentiment I picked up on my first days here was more than confirmed by later interviews and conversations.
Read more from Dreher on Poland’s crisis here.