Catholics in Poland want the Church to change the way it functions but not its doctrine or structure. That is the conclusion of Poland’s national synod synthesis, the survey carried out for the Synod on Synodality, which does not seem to excite the crowds on the banks of the Vistula.
The 23-page document summarized discussions held during the diocesan phase and was unveiled on August 25 at a press conference at Jasna Góra, home to the revered icon of the Black Madonna during a press conference by Msgr. Stanislaw Gadecki, Archbishop of Poznan.
“The synod has brought out from us the expectation of change in the Church – concerning the way it functions, not doctrine or structure,” summed up the Polish prelate.
And the Archbishop specified that the synodal report has highlighted several “concrete pastoral demands”: “Common among these were the need for catechesis for adults, the development of pastoral care that responds to the authentic needs of the faithful, the strengthening (or building up from scratch) of pastoral care for children, young people, families, and the elderly as untapped potential in parish life.”
Requests “largely linked to the spiritual needs of the faithful,” explains Archbishop Gadecki, who nevertheless wanted to add that the Synod has not “aroused massive interest” on the banks of the Vistula, as elsewhere...
Indeed, only an estimated 100,000 Polish faithful – mainly committed lay people according to the report – took the time to answer the questionnaire sent to each parish, out of the 32.5 million Catholics in the country, for a participation rate of less than 1%.
A figure which must also be compared with the study entitled “The Church in Poland,” published in 2021: of the 91.9% of Poles who declare themselves to be Catholic, 36.9% admit to practicing their religion by going to Mass on Sunday.
“The 2021 report concluded that religious practice among young people had halved in almost 30 years. It also noted a decline in Poles expressing support for Catholic moral teaching, particularly on sexual ethics. It said that only 20% of Catholics considered premarital cohabitation to be morally wrong.”
Poland is certainly still far from the level of spiritual decay observed in the countries of Western Europe, but the secularization movement is advancing there inexorably.
The Synod on Synodality is entering its “continental” phase: thus, in February and March 2023, bishops, priests, and religious will meet on each continent to study a working document which must be drafted by the end of that year.