Saint John Paul II is still by far and away the most respected Church figure in Poland, according to an survey conducted by the CBOS research center on the Catholic Church. However, the number of Poles who revere him has fallen from 92 percent in 2009 to 81 percent today.
Neither of the popes who followed John Paul II, Benedict XVI nor Francis, come close to his ratings. Pope Francis’s ratings are now 57 percent, down from 83 percent recorded in 2014. The pollster noted there is little doubt that the current pope’s ambiguous statements about the war in Ukraine have affected his standing in Poland.
Pope Francis said in May of this year that NATO had been “barking at the gates of Russia,” which may have played a role in starting the war. The remarks were widely condemned in Poland.
When respondents were asked what the Church needed to do to strengthen its moral standing among the public, 58 percent pointed to avoiding becoming involved in party politics and 56 percent said the Church should expose and punish instances of pedophilia in its ranks.
Fifty percent also felt the Church should be less focused on raising funds for itself, and 44 percent agreed that priests needed to pay more attention to following the moral principles they were there to defend.
A recent CBOS survey has also shown Church attendances falling in Poland over the last two years. The pollster believes that this is a result of a mixture of the pandemic reducing church-going habits and a number of controversies surrounding the Church.