Author: Krzysztof Kowalczyk
Institution: University of Szczecin (Poland)
Year of publication: 2012
Source: Show
Pages: 472-485
DOI Address:
PDF: ppsy/41/ppsy2012024.pdf

Various aspects of the term Catholic Church can be considered: theological, sociological, legal or politological. For the purpose of this article the defi nition of the Church as formulated by political science will be essential, although in this discipline various connotations exist. The Church is referred to as a denomination, religious community, an interest group or a political entity. Among authors writing about the Church as a denomination are Wolfgang Ernst Böckenförde and Heindrun Abromeit. Both of them focus on the spiritual-religious aspect of Church activities, at the same time emphasizing that political activity is not the principal aim of the Church. Broader theories of Church activities as an interest group are presented by Carolyn M. Warner and Dietrich Hierlemann. Classifying the Catholic Church as an interest group C.M. Warner claims that this institution makes eff orts to get preferential treatment by political authorities, and its goal is to gain certain resources from the economic and political systems. The Church attempts to lobby democratic governments through political parties and other means, as it intends to have an infl uence on the educational system, impose its moral values on society through legislation, or retain certain tax reliefs. The Church tries to provide its members with certain collective goods (such as answers to moral and philosophical dilemmas), affiliation-based (e.g. cult site), or individual incentives (e.g. sacraments). The Catholic Church, therefore, in addition to an organized religion, can be referred to as an untypical interest group D. Hierlemann similarly states that the Church acts as a representative of interests and a lobbyist that attempts to make infl uential contacts, establish good relations with decision makers and play for resources. The Church acting in the secular sphere is subject to the same priciples as other associations (Verbände). This entity tries to promote its interests in the political process. In reference to theories describing the functioning of associations in the lay-political area we can examine the activities of the Church within the political system. From this perspective D. Hierlemann analyzes various forms of lobbying done by the Catholic Church in Poland.

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