Abstract

In her article, Vilma Žaltauskaitė scrutinizes official attitudes toward spiritual educational establishments, such as the Roman Catholic spiritual seminaries of the Samogid (Tel'shevskii) and Vilna (Vilnius) dioceses, in the light of imperial anti-Polish policy. She investigates whether local and central authorities were interested in changing the social composition of students of these seminaries (and if so - in which directions), and whether they pursued any protective measures in support of future Catholic priests from among the peasants who were regarded as representing a "non-Polish" social stratum in the Western imperial borderlands. The author proposes a thorough analysis of local initiatives in this sphere and the reactions of the central imperial bureaucracy to them. She concludes that after 1863, no direct measures were introduced to regulate the social composition of the student body in the region's spiritual seminaries, and only general measures of the imperial authorities against the traditional Polish elite in the region could have indirectly influenced this composition. In other words, one cannot talk about modern "social engineering" aimed at restructuring the Roman Catholic Church in the region as a peasant social institution, and thus a non-Polish one. The central authorities were reluctant to directly endorse the ethnicity of "peasant nations" such as Lithuanians and Belarusians through special social policies.

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