A WARNING SYGNAL
Fr. Marek Łuczak
The latest investigations of the Statistics Institute of the Catholic Church has been convincing us not for the first time that the Polish Catholicism is strong. Although there are no doubts about the existence of secularisation trends in the Polish society, they are taking place in a very slow pace, not to say a creeping one.
Looking at percentage data, it is impossible to ignore two basic pieces of information. Firstly, in the recent years we have observed a slight decrease in number of participants in the Holy Mass every Sunday. Secondly, though, the number of participants of the Sunday Liturgy increased, who take the Holy Communion. And it results from the survey carried out in Autumn 2011 that the average percentage of people who participate in the Holy Mass on Sunday (dominicantes) is 40 percents. The rate of communicantes - that is people who should come to the Holy Mass on Sunday is 16.1 percents. The increase of people participating fully in the Liturgy, that is, taking the holy communion, is interpreted by some people as a manifestation of laksysm or lack of sense of a sin. However, such conclusion should be rather drawn on the basis of alternative decrease in the number of the faithful using the Sacrament of Penance and reconciliation. So, the increase in the number of people taking the Holy Communion can be interpreted as the growth of consciousness and Eucharist religiousness among the faithful.
In order to illustrate the situation well, it is worth noticing that by comparing the results of surveys throughout the last twenty years, the decrease in the number of participants of the Sunday liturgy is nearly 7 percents. This interpretation of data is legalised (nearly 7 percents), if the analogical progress of secularisation in other European countries and the scale of attacks on the Catholic Church or religion in our country are considered at all.
Poland without exceptions
Comments of sociologists also concentrate on comparisons. Referring to the level of communicantes, Fr. Prof. Witold Zdaniewicz, a director of the Statistics Institute of the Catholic Church said that in comparison with the first years of surveys, the present results show a visible growth in the number of people attending the Holy Communion, although it cannot be denied that in comparison with the last year there are slightly less of them. In his opinion, the decrease by 0.3 percent shows that the changes in the Polish religiousness happen but he emphasized that its quality is conditioned by many other factors, not only the percentages of communicantes.
– We are observing a slight but regular gradual decrease in the number of people systematically participating in the Sunday Holy Mass - stated Fr. Wojciech Sadlon from the Statistics Institute of the Catholic Church. As he added, the decrease concerns all dioceses, regardless of the traditional contrast between the most religious Southern East, and the least Northern west of the country. - There are no such regions where faith would be stabilised by the last dozens of years - he said. He emphasized that these are raw data which demand deepening. However, for example a smaller number of the faithful in parishes was included in them - in the last years they have been emigrating from the country for earning purposes.
As Dr. Tomasz Zukowski said in an interview for the Catholic Informative Agency, it can be said that in the times of the Third Polish Republic religious practices of Poles have slightly decreased in number but they also deepened in quality. We got changed, keeping our identity. We have modernised ourselves in a different way than a vast part of other countries on our continent, and without any secularisation.
In the opinion of an investigator, the data of the Statistics Institute of the Catholic Church show that despite new civilisation challenges, it is similar today as well. Like in the earlier centuries, the processes favourable and unfavourable to religiousness are balancing with each other, whereas Poland and Poles are still choosing their own path of development.
– These are not sensational data - a theologian and publicist Fr. Prof. Andrzej Draguła said in an interview with the Catholic Informative Agency, commenting on the results of the surveys. He also noted the number of apostations. The data for the year 2010 has been given by the Statistics Institute of the Catholic Church for the first time. - It is not a shocking number in the scale of a multi-million society, because nearly 459 people - he stressed. - Those who reject the Catholic Church with a formal act, are a special group of people, needing a public manifestation. There is a much bigger groups of silent apostates who are 'dead souls', doing a kind of apostasy through indifference and we do not know their number - says Fr. Draguła. In his opinion, we must look at the phenomenon of apostasy more carefully if in the future there is a possibility of a write-off from a tax for the sake of the Church.