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The number of non-believers in Poland is growing. Young people in particular are leaving the Church at record rates

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Fewer and fewer Poles consider themselves believers. People go to church even less regularly – these are the conclusions of a study on the religiosity of Poles conducted by the Public Opinion Research Center. The number of non-believers is also growing. Clergy and lay people associated with the Church talk about alarming signals.

The number of Poles declaring themselves believers has decreased, reports the Public Opinion Research Center. – From the end of the 1990s until 2019, over 90 percent of Poles considered themselves believers. In recent years, this percentage has decreased, but it has dropped to 86 percent – says Marta Bożewicz from the “Social Opinion Research Center” Foundation.

The number of people practicing regularly is decreasing much faster. – During most of the period we are observing, i.e. from the late 1990s to now, the share of Poles who practiced at least once a week exceeded 50 percent – says Marta Bożewicz.

According to research, in the period from January to April this year, this rate was 34 percent. The decline in religious practices is the fastest among young people, residents of larger cities and the better educated.

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What are the main reasons for leaving the Church?

– Poland ranks first in the world when it comes to the speed of secularization of the young generation in relation to the religiosity of adults and older people. This is research by the American Institute Pew Research Center – says Professor Andrzej Kobyliński, head of the Department of Ethics at Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University.

The number of people declaring themselves rather or completely non-believers has increased significantly. Just five years ago, 8 percent of respondents described themselves this way, and in the latest study it was 14 percent.

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The question is whether we are creating a Church that allows us to see specific stories behind these statistics and numbers? And actually, I think this is where we should start the conversation in the Church. If we didn't see people, it would be a tragedy – comments priest Rafał Kowalski from the Archdiocese of Wrocław.

The main reasons for leaving the Church are lack of interest, lack of need and indifference. – Something worst for any institution that would like to have an influence on society. A shrug, “we move on, thank you, we are not interested in what you propose,” says Adam Szostkiewicz, a journalist of the weekly “Polityka”.

Secondly, respondents indicated reasons related to the institution of the Church: political involvement, hypocrisy or attitudes of clergy.

“However, a change in the trend is possible”

– The young generation, always sensitive to freedom, justice and authenticity, when they see an institution full of hypocrites, this institution will not be attractive to them – points out Dominican Father Paweł Grużyński,

– Someone who has different political views than those of his parish priest, who displays them in the pulpit, will feel bad in this community. He will feel somehow excluded from it, says priest Rafał Kowalski from the Archdiocese of Wrocław.

The Church is in crisis, clergy say. – You don't need CBOS research to sound the alarm. You can see with the naked eye that there are fewer people in churches and fewer seminarians in seminaries – comments Andrzej Kobyliński.

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Secular commentators echo this. – In the next 10-20 years, we can expect a situation like in many other culturally Catholic and European countries. The walls will stand, but no one will walk among them – comments Adam Szostkiewicz, a journalist of “Polityka”.

However, changing the trend is possible with appropriate actions and internal changes in the Church, as convinced by the Dominican Father Paweł Gużyński, who has been serving in the community in the Netherlands for several years. – Over the past two years, the number of people coming to church there has increased more than 2.5 times. Slowly, after this deep Dutch collapse, things are starting to move in a different direction, he said.

Main photo source: TVN24

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