Magister Utinam Sequatur Evangelium Universus Mundus
“Why are you here?” It’s always the same order of questions: “Who are you?” “Where do you come from?” “Why are you here, in Poland?” We have got used to this pattern and our answers flow out almost automatically. Basically, the answers for the first two questions are quite straightforward. However, the last one is more demanding. How are we to answer this question? What is the mission of the Society in Poland? How could the Society be of service to the Church in Poland? Religion and faith in Polish history The Catholic faith in Poland has a thousand-yearold history initiated with the baptism of Duke Mieszko I in 966AD. Since then, Poland has always been a fervent Catholic country, giving numerous saintly figures to the Church including a Pope – Blessed John Paul II. Together with language, faith has always been a uniting factor among Polish nationals living either on home soil or spread out all over the world. It’s not speculative to say that faith and culture are so intertwined that for most of the time they seem one and the same thing. This was even more true whenever there was some sort of persecution in Poland. Faith and language helped Poland survive its 123-year absence from the map, that is, during the partitioning of the country between Prussia, Russia and Austria until the end of World War I in 1918. They also helped Poland persevere the 44-year communist-atheist rule. During this period, faith and the Church were the driving motors behind the formation and rise of Solidarnos´ c´ , the first workers’ (trade) union behing the iron curtain, which together with the election of Kard. Karol Wojtyła to the Papacy, led to the fall of communism, first in Poland, then in all of the eastern European block.
Religion and faith in contemporary Poland That was however in 1989, more than 20 years ago and reality has changed a lot since then. Once there was a common, visible enemy, which brought the people closer together and to the Church, acknowledging it as a truly spiritual and social leader. Nowadays, the enemy is still common but not visible any more. Like most of the developed countries, Poland is facing the multifaceted social enemy which goes by the names of: consumerism, hedonism, secularism and various other ‘–isms’ which are dissolving contemporary society. Church attendance on Sunday has plummeted to an average of 41% in 2010 and only 16% receive communion during Mass. On the otherhand, crowds still pace silently around the graves in