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Monday, January 08, 2007

How Catholic are the Poles?

Speigel Online has a story about Poland and the Church: The Battle for Souls. In the usual fashion of the magazine, the article starts off with a variety of facts and figures.

The church and state have been close allies in Poland since 966. And in the postcommunist era, as political analyst Dominik Hierlemann has argued, "The church has skillfully adapted to the new system, and remained one of the most powerful social and political organizations."

Nonetheless, the Polish episcopacy cannot simply assume that its followers will go where it leads. For centuries - through the country's multiple partitions, the Nazi occupation and the communist rule - the church fought to save the Polish nation, paying a heavy price in the process. Today it is fighting to prevent its flock from being shepherded to the verdant pastures of capitalism. A battle has begun, with minds and souls at stake: the new Poland, intoxicated by its freshly acquired wealth, is battling the millennium-old Roman Catholic Church.

Ninety-five percent of all Poles are Roman Catholics, and well over half say they attend mass at least once a week. The Poles, along with the Irish, are among the most pious members of the European Union. But the fact remains that "the majority of the Polish faithful have grown impervious to the moral teachings of the church," according to Warsaw sociologist Pawel Spiewak.

Almost three out of four young Polish Catholics approve of premarital sex. Tens of thousands skillfully circumvent the extremely harsh abortion laws. Experts estimate the number of illegal abortions per year at 80,000 to 200,000. And while Polish Pope John Paul II vigorously opposed the death penalty, some 70 percent of his compatriots want it reinstated, with the most vocal support coming from the nationalistic Catholic League of Polish Families. Sixty percent of Poles believe that priests should keep out of politics, that a strict line should be drawn between the pulpit and the state: a bitter pill for a church so deeply rooted in national tradition.
[...]

Bolding is mine. After this, the article goes on to recount the fortunes of the Polish nation and those of the Church during the trials and tribulations of Poland. It goes on to look at the erosion of Church influence as Poland emerged as a post-communist democracy with 'modern' ideas of the separation of Church and State.

1 comment:

Samuel said...

It goes on to look at the erosion of Church influence as Poland emerged as a post-communist democracy with 'modern' ideas of the separation of Church and State.

There is nothing 'modern' about what is happening in Poland. Are we not talking about the Enlightenment starting to finally reach the backwaters of Europe?