Polish prelates describe a “wave of apostasies" with a decline in the faith practice of Polish youth.
Poland has traditionally been seen as a predominantly Catholic country, but a new report suggests that this may change in the decades to come. Recent studies examining the attendance at catechesis classes and the faith practice of Polish youth have found that the next generation may not be as zealous.
According to Notes From Poland, Polish prelates have warned of a decline in the faith practice of Polish youth. They describe a “wave of apostasies.” This decline can be best seen in figures relating to the optional participation in religion classes – known as “religia” – which are classes funded and hosted by public schools, with a curriculum set by the Church.
The numbers of students enrolled in these courses have been tracked since 2019, when they showed 78% of primary school children and 44% in high schools participating. Now, however, these figures have dropped to 67% and 29% respectively. The percentages changed more drastically in technical and trade schools, which fell from 41% and 52% respectively, to a scant 23% in both cases in 2022.
The vast majority of Poles still identify as Catholic, but while 84% consider themselves religious believers, only 42% reported practicing their faith at least once per week. A separate report from Notes From Poland, however, found that only 9% of young Poles have a favorable view of the Church. Furthermore, 38% of young people reported that they did not practice their faith, as opposed to only 13% in the older generations.
This downward trend, while most observable in Warsaw, persisted in smaller cities throughout the nation.
Father Rafał Kowalski, spokesman for the curia in Wrocław, noted that the Church in Poland was “flooded” with resignations from catechesis after the Constitutional Tribunal implemented a strict ban on abortion. He also suggested that the Church is viewed as an “intolerant institution” by Polish youth, who often cite scandals of clerical abuse as reasons for leaving.