The Roman Catholic Church in the history of the Polish exiled community in Britain (1939-1950)
The subject of this thesis is the role of religion in the history of the exiled Polish community, which made its way to Britain in the years 1939 to 1950. The role of religion in the life of man has been stressed by sociologists as well as by theologians and religious leaders. Religion 'is not a sort of luxury which a man could go along without, but a condition of his very existence. He could not be a man, if he had not acquired it.' (E. Durkheim - 'The social foundation of religion', Sociology of Religion, Harmondworth, 1984, p. 53). The thesis will give an account of the role and influence of the Roman Catholic faith in the life of the Polish Exiles and their Communities in the decade following the outbreak of the Second World War. It will trace their lives during the war and immediately after, in various European countries, though mainly in Britain, as also in the Soviet Union and the Middle East. All these countries were, for a certain time, places of short-term residence for the Poles, whose war ally and the last refuge after the war, became Great Britain. A substantial introduction has been added outlining the history of Poles in Britain before 1939, and the general question of their national identity. It would be useful to note that the Exiled Poles, wherever they were, saw themselves as the Polish nation abroad. The reason, perhaps, was that the Communities included persons of all ages, sexes, classes and professions who were thus able to form and develop their own-cultural, religious and political life. Religion helped the Poles to transcend their painful history and see clearly the meaning of human existence and their place in the universe and on earth.