December 28, 1957

CHRISTIANS IN EASTERN EUROPE: Paris, 24 – This year Christmas was celebrated with greater freedom in the People’s Republics of Eastern Europe than in the past. During the past year, there has been a clear improvement in the status of churches, particularly in Poland and Hungary. In Poland, the country’s leader Wladyslaw Gomulka satisfied the Catholic Church’s main demand by allowing once more the teaching of religion in state schools and gave orders not to obstruct the work of clerics in hospitals and prisons. Finally the Polish government restored to the church a number of buildings it had seized after 1949. Despite the communist rigidity regarding the reopening of theological seminaries closed in 1954 and the publication of a Catholic daily newspaper, relations between church and state are improved. Although Catholic deputies have abandoned all thoughts of forming a political party, they have been acting fairly independently. It is certain that Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski’s moderate stance has greatly contributed to the government’s attitude. In Russia, Christmas Day is an ordinary working day, but the remaining faithful will be celebrating the festival 13 days later in accordance with the Julian calendar.