Photo: A pro-choice protest in a Catholic church in Poznan, Poland (EPA)
A majority of Poles, including Catholics, think the Church plays a negative role in public life, according to a survey.
– Just a quarter of citizens have positive view of Church’s contribution to society
According to a poll published November 4 for the Dziennik Gazeta Prawna newspaper and radio station RMF, 65.7% of all citizens in Poland are dissatisfied with the Church’s current place in the public square.
Just 27.4% of survey respondents considered the Church’s contribution to society to be positive, with the remainder of those polled unsure or unwilling to answer.
Pollsters United Surveys took stock of the opinions of 1,000 people in Poland, a country in which 90% of the population identifies as Catholic, according to national statistics office figures.
Support for the Church’s contribution to public life was higher among Catholics, but still not in the majority. While 48% of the faithful said they assessed positively the Church’s place in public life, 50% said they viewed it negatively.
Appreciation for the Church’s contribution was still higher among voters of the ruling conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party, at 69%.
– Inaction on abuse, connivance with government among reasons for dissatisfaction
In comments to Dziennik Gazeta Prawna, political scientist Antoni Dudek said the latest poll numbers point to a “deep crisis” for the Polish Catholic Church.
As reasons for the dramatic drop in confidence in the institution in the nominally ‘Catholic’ country, Dudek pointed to cover-ups of Church entanglements with the former communist secret service, cases of clergy sex abuse and the lack of hierarchical accountability and transparency regarding those crimes and the connivance of priests and bishops with the ruling PiS.
The inaction of the Polish Catholic episcopate with regard to priestly pedophilia came under the spotlight once again November 4, when the Vatican nunciature in Warsaw announced that it would investigate now-retired former Archbishop of Gdansk Leszek Slawoj Glodz for “reported negligence” that led to the suspected “detriment of minors by some clergy of the Gdansk archdiocese”.
In June the Pope also sidelined Bishop Edward Janiak of the Kalisz diocese over suspicions he failed to act against clerical predators.
Long-time personal secretary of Pope John Paul II and former Archbishop of Krakow Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz has also been forced to explain why he seemingly failed to act on a complaint he received from a priest in 2012 about an abusive colleague.
– Bishops’ president doubles down against protesters, calls them “cultural Marxists”
The sex abuse crisis in the Polish Church aside, however, the most pressing issue the bishops there are having to deal with at present is the continuing uproar over a near-total ban on legal abortions in the country imposed October 22 by the Constitutional Tribunal, which has now turned into what one activist and academic described as a “revolution against the Church”.
Thousands of people all over Poland have been protesting for 14 days straight against the ban, but the Church is refusing to apologise for its role in overturning the delicate social balance that had prevailed on the abortion issue.
Archbishop of Poznan and head of the Polish episcopate Stanislaw Gadecki even doubled down against the protesters in a new interview, as he blamed the unrest on a “hatred of Christianity” sponsored by “cultural Marxists” hell-bent on promoting “homosexuality, hedonism and promiscuity”.
The archbishop also appeared to compare the political situation for Catholics in Poland today with the plight of Jews in the prewar period, lamenting that “today Catholics seem to occupy their place”.
In the interview, Gadecki likewise responded to the accusations levelled at the Church of meddling in politics, insisting that the bishops do not “support any party as a Church” and that “the Church in Poland is not on the right or left, or even on the side of the centre, but on the side of the gospel”.
This Wednesday at his General Audience Pope Francis expressed support for a new Polish rosary initiative against abortion, and encouraged prayers that lead to “the healing of the harm caused by the loss of unborn children, the forgiveness of sins, the gift of reconciliation” and that open up “hope and peace”.
But last week a series of surveys found that only a quarter of Polish people were in favour of the Constitutional Tribunal abortion ruling.