The CBOS research, which shows that in the youngest group, the decline in religious practices reaches 30 percent is disturbing. These are devastating numbers, said Archbishop Wojciech Polak, the Primate of Poland. He added that this called for “finding an adequate pastoral response and a way to preach the kerygma to young people.”
The Institute of Statistics of the Catholic Church has published a statistical yearbook, which shows that the pandemic strongly affected the religious life of Poles. In 2020, there were significantly fewer weddings and baptisms, and fewer people received the sacrament of Confirmation.
The Primate of Poland, Archbishop Wojciech Polak, asked in an interview with the Polish Press Agency whether the reason for these declines is solely a pandemic, said that when we look at the results of the ISKK research, we must bear in mind that this year is difficult to analyze. ”
– This decline was influenced by many factors, including a powerful blow to the community life of the Church, which were sanitary restrictions caused by the pandemic. However, I think that the CBOS research is more disturbing than the ISKK data, which show that in the youngest group of respondents, the decline in religious practices reaches 30 percent. These are downright devastating numbers. They show that in the young generation there is a very strong re-evaluation – said the primate.
He added that “this requires that we get to know the reasons for this process and find an adequate pastoral response and a way to proclaim the kerygma to these people.”
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Primate: the negligence of the bishops undermines our credibility
Archbishop Polak was asked about the impact of the reports on the results of the Holy See’s investigations regarding the negligence of bishops in cases of sexual abuse committed by some clergy against minors on the faith of Catholics in Poland.
– Undoubtedly, the negligence of our superiors, who did not take the side of the wronged, undermines our credibility as a community of the Church. For some of the faithful, this information may be a bit of bitterness. Some of them left the Church under their influence, and these things caused a deep crisis in their faith. That is why our answer is to take care of the wronged, their families, as well as people scandalized by cases of sexual abuse of children by clergy, he said.
– Shaping the awareness of the people of the Church in the matter of pedophilia is supported by everything that we do in terms of creating church structures, as well as support groups for the injured. We also try to build this sensitivity through the prayers we undertake, for example by celebrating on the first Fridays of Lent the Day of prayer and penance for the sins of sexual abuse of minors. We are aware that we will only restore the credibility of the Church if we stand in the truth and take responsibility for clearing up all these crimes – he added.
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Archbishop Pole: it is not an easy process of purification, but it is necessary
The archbishop, when asked whether Poland has become an experimental field for the settlement of church superiors in accordance with the motu proprio of Pope Francis Vos estis lux mundi, said that “the judgments show that the VELM is not a dead document, but is an important element in the Church’s fight against the crime of sexual abuse of minors” . – Since June 2019, over a dozen proceedings have been conducted against Polish bishops. It is not an easy process of purification, but it is necessary so that we, as the Church, become more and more credible – he said.
In the primate’s opinion, “the mere appointment of a commission will not solve the problem of sexual abuse of minors”. – Neither the commission in France, nor those operating in other countries, have replaced criminal proceedings carried out by state bodies and by church authorities, whose aim is to find the truth and restore a sense of justice. It is their action that is crucial, he said.
– That is why we encourage people who have experienced harm to report it to both state law enforcement agencies and the Church. The Saint Joseph Foundation of the Polish Episcopal Conference and the Delegate’s Office have launched a special website zgloskrzywde.pl, which provides information on where and how to report this harm, as well as how to receive help – he added.
– Of course, in addition to the activities of the state and church justice, we also need scientific research that helps us estimate the scale and describe the nature of the crimes we are struggling with. Therefore, at the request of the Polish Episcopal Conference, the Institute of Statistics of the Catholic Church, which is an independent scientific unit, has been conducting statistical research and publishing its results for several years. Soon, ISKK will start another query for 2021. We need to continue this research and expand our activities – said the Primate.
Asked whether the sexual abuse of nuns is another topic that the Church will have to deal with in the near future, he said that according to the documents of the Holy See, he puts the abuse of minors and the helpless, i.e. those who are in a relationship, for example financially dependent, on an equal footing. or business.
– Initiatives – a phone call “Sisters for sisters” or the website zgloskrzywde.pl – is an attempt to reach people who left a community because of harm, for example a religious one. We are talking here not only about sexual abuse, but also other violent situations. The initiatives taken are about helping these people and preventing such situations in the future – he added.
Primate on the situation on the Polish-Belarusian border
The archbishop referred to the crisis on the Polish-Belarusian border. He said his position “has been unchanged from the outset and coincides with that of all bishops.” – The principle that the border should be defended against the aggressor and against a hybrid war led by a dictator – all the more inhuman as it involves the use of innocent people – must be completed by helping migrants. If there are people in a life-threatening condition in Poland, they simply need help. There is no alternative here. One may wonder about the forms of this aid, but they cannot be left alone – he said. – First, we should give them emergency help where they are. As the Polish Episcopal Conference, we constantly appeal for humanitarian organizations to operate in the border area. At the same time, as a Church, for years we have been demanding the creation of a coherent migration policy of the Polish state and we declare our readiness to cooperate. There are people in refugee centers in Poland who have been waiting for a long time to be granted asylum, and yet we should help them as soon as possible – he added.
Main photo source: PAP / Paweł Jaskółka