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Polish seminars in crisis. “Being a priest is no longer a positive thing in itself”

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The Polish Church is in crisis. There are places where seminars are closed because there are no takers at all. In the early 1990s, over 5,000 men were preparing for the priesthood. Now just over a thousand.

Once, a hundred seminarians walked the corridors of the seminary in Łowicz. When a new one reported in 2023, it became clear to him and the residents of Łowicz what would happen next. Seven residents of the building move to Warsaw. – We cannot say that we cease to exist. We’re just moving, we’re moving. Demographic reasons and some general crisis of civilization. I think I would say that with a flourish – explains Father Dr. Piotr Kaczmarek, Rector of the Higher Theological Seminary in Łowicz.

However, it is difficult to call the ordaining of one priest in Lodz a grand scale. Who – as he admits in the recording on the curia’s website – is most afraid that he will have no one to celebrate mass for. – When I will celebrate this Eucharist to empty pews, and in the confessional instead of me, the confessor, there will be brushes – says Father Krzysztof Kucharski.

In the early 1990s, over 5,000 men were preparing for the priesthood. Now over a thousand. – Many people resign from catechesis lessons, so if someone resigns from catechesis lessons, he will necessarily not consider choosing a priestly path – emphasizes the priest habilitated doctor Rafał Kowalski from the Archdiocese of Wrocław.

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Mr. Michał took the priesthood into account, but the seminary parted ways. He asks for anonymity. – The whole system of the church and education for becoming a priest is based on the BMW principle, i.e. “passive, mediocre, but faithful”. Constant surveillance. Cell phones were taken from seminarians, the internet was disconnected in the evening – says a former seminarian. Mr. Michał is not surprised that religious and diocesan seminaries are disappearing from the maps. Those that glow with emptiness connect with others.

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Institutional problem?

– More and more is expected of priests, less and less is forgiven. I am not saying that this is something bad, but undoubtedly being a priest is no longer a positive thing in itself, says Father Jacek Prusak, a Jesuit priest and theologian. It’s hard to say it’s a coincidence. – Endless pedophile, homosexual scandals. This ruined the social image of bishops and priests. Without regaining the lost credibility, there is no chance to overcome the crisis of priestly and religious vocations – argues Father Professor Andrzej Kobyliński, head of the Department of Ethics at UKSW. There are less and less candidates and they are getting worse – adds Father Professor Kobyliński.

Demographics and progressive secularization also work against it. In the future, not every parish will have a pastor. – Maybe this will force these changes, which are being talked about more and more loudly in the Church, in order to sanctify married men, so that celibacy is a path to choose – emphasizes Father Dr. Jacek Prusak.

First, however, one must notice the problem and those for whom priests are ordained.

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