Poland: Fewer and Fewer Catholics Practicing
Statistics collected over all of Polish territory in all the parishes during last three months of 2009 reveal a slow revival of frequenting the Mass in 2009, going from 40.5% of the country’s 38 million inhabitants in 2008 to 41.5% in 2009. However, they confirm a “a slow but steady decline” in assistance at Mass in the country’s 44 dioceses over the last decade, a decline that is as high as 9.2% in certain regions. Fr. Witold Zdaniewicz, director of the Polish Institute of Statistics, has specified that between 43% and 46% of Polish went to the church regularly during the period from 1991 – 2007, adding that if he guesses right the present tendency to drop will continue.
“Observing the studies made over the last thirty years, we must give in to evidence: fewer and fewer people go to church”, Fr. Wojciech Sadlon, of the Institute of Statistics of the Catholic Church, told the agency ENI. On May 13, in a press conference at the Secretariat of the Polish Bishops’ Conference, Fr. Sadlon mentioned to the Polish Catholic press agency KAI that the sociologues of religions have identified several causes explaining the decline in the frequenting of churches, especially the cultural and social changes, as well as the problems in the Church’s pastoral work. He emphasized that Polish religiosity remains mostly rooted in the countryside and less in the cities, adding however that the “pessimistic outlook” of a sudden drop in the frequenting of churches has not yet been confirmed.
This observation follows that of the drop priestly and monastic vocations in this country that is for the most part Catholic. By the end of 2009, 687 Polish had entered the seminary, that is, 5% less than in 2008. In 2000, Poland had 4,773 seminarians, compared to 3,732 in 2009. The number of women wishing to enter into orders has dropped by half in 10 years, only 300 of them began studies in the prenoviciate in 2009, compared to 723 a decade earlier. During the year, 28 convents closed down. A logical consequence of the diminution of the number of candidates to the priesthood in Poland, is that the Polish Catholic Church will send fewer priests abroad in the future, declared Msgr. Jozef Henryk Muszynski, Primate Emeritus of Poland, on June 7 to the press agency KNA. At present, a quarter of European seminaries are Polish. (Sources: apic/eni/kai/kna/afp – DICI n°218, July 10, 2010)
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