The two faces of the Polish Catholic Church

While the urban Church suffers from a lack of interest from youth, rural churches are filled with young families at Mass, writes Dominican Father Wojciech Surówka

editor: Grzegorz Adamczyk
author: Wojciech Surówka

I feel like I live in a different kind of Catholic Poland. I don’t know whether this is some sort of vision defect that Catholic intellectuals suffer from, or simply an error in judgment, but for years I have heard that there are increasingly fewer people in the Polish Church and if there are, they are the elderly.

I hear these worries from both the left and the right sides of the ideological battlefield. I recently came across a post on social media. My friend described a visit to one Polish Mass: Apparently, 80 percent of the participants were the elderly, many benches were empty and there were no young people. He believes that this is the current image of the social structure of Catholics in Poland. Although the symbols of Catholic culture remain in Polish society, there are increasingly fewer Catholics.

To summarize — the situation is bad, and what’s worse, no one knows how to solve this problem, apart from a handful of intellectuals who know everything, but no one is listening to them.

But I think that all of this depends on where you look.

According to Dominican Father Wojciech Surówka, Catholicism is still very strong in Poland, especially in the smaller towns and villages. (source: YouTube)

In recent months, I have been preaching in several rural parishes, and I have noticed a completely different situation. Churches are full of not only elderly people but also young families with children. I’m not talking about some very popular pilgrim destinations or large urban parishes but about small towns and even villages. To me, it seems as if I was living in an entirely different Catholic Poland.

Intellectuals are constantly accusing the Church in Poland of fideism, which is the emphasis of the advantage of faith over the rational discovery of the world and scientific theories, which they believe only leads to mindless belief.

Meanwhile, they themselves fall into the trap of intellectualism, which distorts reality, as it sees confirmation for its own theories about the crisis everywhere.

The best cure for fideism is a solid intellectual foundation. And intellectualism is best treated with the experience of living faith.

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