People and values

Fr Pawel Rozpiatkowski

Family is at top of the value hierarchy. Almost 70 % of people have chosen family as the most important value.
We asked the questions: What is most important in Catholics’ lives? Are the values they hold to every day the same as the values they hear of at church? Are faith and life parallel independent straight lines? Do they coincide? We looked for the responses in the research of the sociologists from the Institute of Statistics of the Catholic Church, who carried out, on behalf of ‘Niedziela’, a survey among believing and practicing Catholics. Family is of the key importance for those Poles who do not only declare to believe in God but regularly attend Sunday Mass. The next values are faith and children. Practicing Catholics also value: work, friends and participation in the life of some religious community. The values, which practicing Catholics hold to and which are in the bottom of their hierarchy, include: possessions and affluent life, money, free time and passions. The respondents wrote that those values were of average or little importance. Catholics do not desire career or power, either. Most of them wrote that those things were of little, very little or of no importance at all. < clasas=styt>Important and less important

The sociologists from the Institute of Statistics of the Catholic Church, under the supervision of Professor Witold Zdaniewicz, asked the group selected for the survey the following question: Please rank the value, according to the scale, of the following: children, family, work, free time and rest, friends, religious faith, participation in the life of some religious community, politics and public life (power, career), possessions, affluent life, money, interests (passions, hobbies), other things. The respondents could always choose between: extremely important, very important, important, average important, less important, least important or not important. < clasas=styt>Family is the main value...

Family was the top value in the hierarchy. Almost 70 % of the respondents attached extreme importance to family, 26.1 % say it was very importance. None of the Catholics indicated that family was less, least importance or not important. One can say that the attitudes of practicing Catholics towards family do not differ from other Polish people. For many years our fellow countrymen have regarded family as the top value, which has been confirmed by various sociological research. Catholics chose almost identical answers as far as the importance of children was concerned. And they chose first of all: extremely important (64.6%) and very important (22.2 %). Nobody chose ‘not important’; there were only such cases when the respondent had no children. < clasas=styt>...and faith

The results concerning faith are mirror image of the previous results. The evaluation was similar. For 67.3% faith was extremely important, for 26.3 % it was very important, for 5 % it was important. These results differentiate practicing Catholics from the rest of the population, which is an obvious factor. But what is interesting is that the related question on the participation in the life of some religious community showed other answers. Fewer respondents chose that participation was extremely important (16.4%) or very important (39.2%). The second half of the respondents thought that it was important (31.7%) or average important (7.3 %). < clasas=styt> ‘No work, no pay’

Practicing Catholics regard work as being of considerable value. They attach great importance (34.5 % – very important and 45.7 % – important). Those that do not value it much are a statistical error.
What do practicing Catholics work for? Certainly, they neither work for money nor make every effort to make a fortune. Money and fortune are their secondary objectives. Possessions and affluent life are of average importance (48.3%) or of little importance (25.1%) or of very little importance (10.1%). Only 7.9% of the respondents attach great importance to these goods. The same applies to money. Over half of the respondents (54.3%) answered that money was of average importance to them. Every sixth thinks that money is very important (17.8%) or on the contrary – least important (17%). < clasas=styt>They do not desire power

Finally, power and career. Practicing Catholics have an average ‘drive for power’ and they do not bother about career. They decisively chose them to be in the bottom of the value hierarchy. They prefer rest to struggle for power or career. When asked about free time over half of the respondents said that it was very important (11.9%) and important (44.6%) whereas over 70% answered that power and career were of average importance (24.6%), little importance (26.5%) and very little (22.8%). Is it good or bad? On the one hand, one can say that it is good that Catholics are not obsessed with their careers or power. Their reserve towards those values can be explained by the bad opinion about the ruling elite in Poland and by careerism. On the other hand, the Catholic social teaching encourages Christians to active involvement in public life, which means assuming responsibility for common good in local and universal dimensions. < clasas=styt>Deficiencies concerning community spirit

It is worth paying attention, which has already been stressed, to the divergence concerning the responses to the question of the meaning of religious faith and participation in the life of some religious community. The divergence shows some deficiencies in the communal dimension of faith. The most practicing Catholics regard faith as very important in their lives but they do attach the same importance to their participation in some religious community. For them the participation is of less importance. < clasas=styt>Pole and Catholic

The Institute of the Statistics of the Catholic Church asked four additional questions: Does faith give sense to life? Do you accept the requirements of the Decalogue? Is your Homeland a very important value to you? Are you proud of being a Pole? Almost all respondents answered ‘yes’. Very few had troubles with answering those questions and only some answered ‘no’. Therefore, 97 % of practicing Catholics think that faith gives sense to their lives and 98.6% accept the requirements of the Catholic ethics set by the Ten Commandments – nobody ticked ‘no’. Practicing Catholics are great patriots. Homeland is of great importance for 94.5% and nine in ten respondents are proud of being Polish. They resisted the propaganda of the recent years when many personalities tried to persuade them to be ashamed of their origin. < clasas=styt>Conclusion

Are faith and life parallel independent straight lines? Do they coincide? The results of the research allow us to state that practicing Catholics take their faith seriously and there is a direct correlation between their faith and their attitudes and behaviours.

"Niedziela" 1/2008

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: