Diocese of Plock
SYNTHESIS OF THE SYNODAL PROCESS IN THE DIECESE OF PLOCK 2021-2022 (PDF version at bottom)
Dn. October 1, 2021. Bishop Piotr Libera of Plock, in connection with the universal synodal process launched by Pope Francis in the Church, has appointed two of its coordinators in the Diocese of Plock: Fr. dr. Wojciech Kućka, a professor at the WSD in Płock, a lecturer at UKSW in Warsaw and director of the Department for the Study of the History of the World. The family members of the Plock Curia, and Dr. Witold Jack Wybult, an employee of the same department and president of the Association of Catholic Families of the Diocese of Plock (Cf. P. LIBERA, Order of the Bishop of Plock on the organization and conduct of the synodal process in the Diocese of Plock, “Plock Pastoral Monthly” 106/116 (2021) 10, pp. 878-885).
An important stage of the journey together was the liturgical opening of the process at the Cathedral Basilica in Plock on Dn. November 7, 2021. And the dedication of the entire work to the intercession of Our Lady of Mazovia. The gathering of synodal votes and meetings of various boards, groups and associations then began. In seven Marian shrines of the diocese (Czerwinsk-on-Vistula – the shrine of Our Lady of Consolation; Plock – the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary; Popowo Koscielne – the shrine of Our Lady of Popovska, the Mother of Hope; Przasnysz – the shrine of Our Lady of the Immaculate Presence; Sierpc – the shrine of Our Lady of the Immaculate Presence. Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary; Popowo Koscielne – the sanctuary of Our Lady of Popovska Mother of Hope, Przasnysz – the sanctuary of Our Lady of the Immaculate Guide; Sierpc – the sanctuary of Our Lady of Sierpc; Skępe – the sanctuary of Our Lady of Skepe; Zuromin – the sanctuary of Our Lady of Zuromin) held meetings of district synodal teams, composed of representatives of various groups and states in the Church. An important stage of synodal listening was the meetings of diocesan bodies and councils: Diocesan Priestly Council; Diocesan Pastoral Council; Diocesan Council of Catholic Movements and Associations of the Diocese of Plock; Social Council to the Bishop of Plock; Youth Pastoral Council; Higher Theological Seminary in Plock; Religious Synodal Group; a group of synodal clergy at meetings in the deaneries of the diocese (in 22 of the 28 deaneries). Meetings of movements and associations, organized by: Association of Catholic Families of the Catholic Diocese of Plock; parish circles of the Association of Catholic Families of the Catholic Diocese of Plock from Plock; synodal group of women; Priestly Community of Lay People; Dialogue Section of the Plock Scientific Society (ecumenical synodal dialogue). In addition, meetings of parish bodies were held, mainly Parish Pastoral Councils (62 of 249 parishes). Box votes came down from 8 parishes, while individual votes were about 200. In addition, the coordinators of the synodal process participated in Warsaw on dn. March 19-20, 2022. In a meeting with Cardinal Mario Grech, Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops, as well as in online sessions organized by the Secretariat of the Polish Bishops’ Conference and the SAC Institute for Statistics of the Catholic Church. Rev. Witold Zdaniewicz.
The diocesan-wide, visible and lasting fruit of the synodal process are the Eucharistic days, during which the faithful, every day in a different place of the diocese (in parishes and religious communities), have the opportunity to listen to the Lord, hidden in the Blessed Sacrament (Cf. P. LIBERA, Ordinance of the Bishop of Plock on Eucharistic Days in the Diocese of Plock dated. January 6, 2022 r., “Circular” (2022) no. 1, s. 1-14). In addition, for every first Sunday of the month from November 2021. Through May 2022. Rev. Wojciech Kućko prepared relevant universal prayers and schemes for adoration services for the good experience and fruits of the synodal process, published in the E-Bulletin, the Circular and on the website www.plockierodziny.pl. A Twitter account (@SynodPlock) has also been created for wider access to knowledge and contact opportunities, as well as a synod email box firstname.lastname@example.org. Another material fruit of the synod was the development and presentation at the opening ceremony of the coat of arms of the Diocese of Plock (Cf. W. KUĆKO, Coat of arms of the Plock diocese, in TENŻE (ed.), Yearbook of the Plock Diocese 2021. Personnel and administrative structure, Plock 2022, p. 37-40). The consultation process was completed on April 30, 2022, and the diocesan presynodal meeting took place during vespers at the Cathedral Basilica of Plock on May 2, 2022, the feast of St. Sigismund, patron saint of the city of Plock and the Plock Cathedral Chapter (For the synodal prayer meetings, texts have been published to better experience them, see. W. KUĆKO, W. WYBULT, Beginning of the Synodal Process in the Diocese of Plock, Plock 2021; P. WIŚNIEWSKI (ed.), Vespers in Honor of St. Zygmunt, Plock 2022. All participants in the diocesan presynodal meeting received commemorative magnets with the logo of the synod and the diocesan coat of arms). On May 30, 2022, the synodal questionnaire, prepared by the Fr. Witold Zdaniewicz Institute for Statistics of the Catholic Church SAC, was completed and sent through the system. The synodal process was primarily an opportunity to search once again, in the new pastoral conditions, for an answer to the question posed by St. John Paul II at the end of the 42nd synod of the Diocese of Plock in the Cathedral on Tumskie Hill: “”Church, what do you say about yourself?” (cf. John 1:22). […] Who are you? Who should you be? How can you become what you should be, in order to respond to the ‘signs of the times’ (cf. Mt. 16:3), in order to respond to the expectations and requirements of your own community and, indirectly, of the whole nation, entering a new period of its history?” Quid dicis de te ipso?” (Cf. JAN PAWEŁ II, Word of the Holy Father during the devotion to the Heart of Jesus, Plock, June 7, 1991 r., in E. CZUMAKOV, D. SOBKOWICZ (eds.), God be thanked, the spirit not extinguished. The Fourth Pilgrimage of the Holy Father John Paul II to the Homeland, June 1-9, 1991 r., Warsaw 1991, s. 268). The Plock synodal experience is part of the slogan of the synodal process: Communion, Participation and Mission. Undoubtedly, also important and worthy of mention in this context is the legacy of Fr. Paul Wlodkowic of Brudzenia (1370/1373-1435) and his views expressed during the dispute with the Teutonic Knights at the Council of Constance in the spirit of dialogue and the pursuit of truth. The appendix to this text presents a summary of the aggregate votes obtained in the synodal process in the Diocese of Plock (see Appendix 1).
II. Discernment of the collected synodal voices and conclusions
By dn. April 30, 2022. to the coordinators of the synodal process, all the votes from the diocese were forwarded. Then a major and time-consuming effort was made to analyze the collected material, sorting and arranging according to the methodology proposed by the Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops the ten main issues that needed to be deepened (Cf. M. PRZECISZEWSKI, Speech after the Mass inaugurating the diocesan stage of the synod on synodality, Cathedral Basilica, Plock, November 7, 2021 r., “Plock Pastoral Monthly” 116 (2021) no. 11, s. 1038-1044). The idea was to consider how “the synodal Church, in proclaiming the Gospel, ‘walks together’; how is this ‘walking together’ realized […] in the particular Church? What steps does the Holy Spirit invite us to take so that we grow in our ‘walking together’?” (SYNOD OF BISHOPS, Preparatory Document for the 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, “Toward a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation and Mission,” Vatican 2021, no. 26). All activities were accompanied by an atmosphere of prayer and listening to what God is saying to the Church. Below is an aggregate compilation of the collected voices in the key of the ten synodal issues. All statements were taken from the reports, emails and other voices presented, then reworked and adapted for this report. Each issue is preceded by a brief, general philosophical-theological-pastoral reflection, after which specific indications (conclusions) are written for further work in the synodal process in the Diocese of Plock, that is, steps to be taken in what has been discerned as the voice of the Holy Spirit.
1. TRAVEL COMPANIONS
The question of “walking together,” that is, the synodal nature of the Church’s community in its various dimensions and spaces, ran through the meetings and reflections of various groups. On the answer to the question of what is and what constitutes “our Church” depends the formulation of other diagnoses and projects, and above all the definition of the goals of pastoral action.
Today’s postmodern culture and “fluid,” often even dialectical thinking about the world and values are not conducive to mutual wandering and listening. Not insignificant is the ingrained homo sovieticus in many Poles and such treatment of the Church to see it only as a temporal reality of charity and service. Many scandals and sins of churchmen have caused a huge decline in trust, building walls that are difficult to break down, especially in the attitude of young people’s trust in priests. The downplaying of various abuses and the attitude of preserving the former status quo of churchmen at all costs have often led to great indifference and even hostility to the good that flows from pastoral ministry.
However, these are not reasons for the Church to give up or surrender in its ever-present mission of evangelization. Especially in view of the situation of “change of epoch” emphasized by Francis, the people of God of Mazovia need a dynamic and concrete response to what the new signs of the times bring. In addition to caring for the sheep who “stand firm in the faith” (cf. 1 Cor. 16:13), reaching out to those Christians who have become Gentiles anew is at the forefront of the Church’s pastoral conversion. This raises the question of how to convey the unchanging and empowering content of faith to modern people who are often bored, discouraged and present only in the virtual world. Young people in particular indicated that there is a decline in general interest not only in scandals in the Church, but in general in the institution itself, which for a not inconsiderable number of the baptized seems to be separated from their peculiar understanding of faith. That is why the words of Pope Francis from the apostolic exhortation Evangelii gaudium are so timely, including for the Diocese of Plock: “Today we do not need “ordinary administration.” Let us be in all regions of the earth in a ‘permanent state of mission'” (FRANCISZEK, Apostolic Exhortation “Evangelii gaudium,” Vatican 2013, no. 29).
- Among the wanderers who understand and see the need to belong to a community are the residents of Northern Mazovia and Dobrzyń Land, traditionally attached to God, the Church and the Fatherland. Many of them are people who are open to helping others, charity and social activities. For the vast majority of them, faith in God is an important part of existence, even if it is not expressed in regular piety and religious practices.
- Walking together is hindered by the spiritual laziness present in the lives of some clergy and laity, lack of maturity, selfishness, thinking about temporal success, stubborn repetition of patterns and old times, working alone and individualism, and failure to understand the contemporary challenges of the universal Church. This requires asking questions about the fundamental human willingness to work, as well as the motivation and evaluation of the actions taken.
- Unfortunately, a significant abandonment of sacramental practices, especially confession and Sunday Mass, by children and adolescents has been observed in recent years. Also not insignificant is the failure of increasing numbers of young people to attend religious classes in schools, thus increasing their distance from faith and the Church. It seems that this group of young people, with whom in previous decades people of the Catholic Church have engaged in constructive dialogue, today requires special attention and understanding of why they have found themselves actually, and often formally, on the margins of the Church.
Listening is one of the most important challenges of the Church in the synodal process that has been initiated. However, it often encounters a variety of obstacles, among which the following were pointed out in the Plock Church: clericalism, in the thinking of both clergy and laity about the Church; prejudice; lack of an atmosphere of understanding and sincerity; and often fear of the opinion of superiors or other members of the community.
The most important thing in this context, therefore, seems to be the creation of a listening atmosphere. It is possible when a person is willing to listen to God, who speaks in His Word, in the sacraments, especially the Eucharist, and in another person.
The district and decanal meetings were quite popular with the invited faithful. Each group attempted to reflect the social and religious cross-section of the deanery and region. The discussions undertaken were constructive, with each group given a clearly defined topic to consider and discuss. Final conclusions were always formulated in writing.
A special form of surveying was the “synodal boxes” – physical, appropriately labeled boxes placed in prominent locations in the diocese’s parish churches. A total of 8 parishes (out of 249 in the diocese, or 3%) submitted votes from the boxes. In many boxes, pastors found monetary offerings for the parish placed by the faithful. No vulgar or anti-faith or anti-church voices were reported. The synodal email box was a space for exchanging all the voices flowing down to the contact persons, both individually and from diocesan groups and committees. The email address and the idea of the synodal process were disseminated through parish websites, parish social media, the diocesan website and the curial departments’ websites.
About 1/4 of the parishes have joined the synodal process, sending relevant reports of meetings. In 5 of the 28 deaneries, no synodal meeting was held in any of the parishes in the deanery. For many of the faithful, a valuable and important experience, useful in the current synodal process, was the work in earlier synodal teams during the 43rd. Synod of Plock, which ended in 2015.
Individual conversations between priests and the faithful, sermons were an important part of the synodal process. However, there are no reports from them, only verbally transmitted votes to diocesan coordinators.
- They pointed out the value of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in silence, during which a person can most fully hear the voice of God, resounding also in the human conscience. Thus, they stressed the need to open churches during the day and allow the faithful to come to visit the Blessed Sacrament and adoration.
- It was noted how important it is in the lives of priests to listen and be with the faithful, also to go out to meet them, for example, after Mass is over, through frequent duty in the confessional, availability and openness in the parish chancellery, patient and conscientious performance of duties as hospital, religious chaplains.
- A huge deficit in listening is present in many families today, with many parenting problems also stemming from this.
- The problem of listening within religious communities is important, where it is important for superiors to be open to every confrere and sister.
- More speaking space should be given to women, especially those involved in parish and deanery ministry. A demand was made for the establishment of a diocesan women’s council.
- The issue of listening more fully to the voice of people with disabilities, involving them in parish structures, and adapting parish buildings for use by people with disabilities was raised.
- The great challenge of the modern Plock Church is to rediscover the important place and tasks of young people in parish communities. They seem to be the ones most attuned to “being listened to,” to speak out about their experience of the world, faith and the Church.
- The distinction between listening and advising was pointed out. Decision-making should be preceded not only by good advice, but by listening to the voice of every believer interested in action.
- They noted the immense and still insufficiently appreciated value of the pastoral visit, or carol service, which is a good opportunity to get to know parishioners, accompany and discern with them the paths to God.
- The importance of talking to the faithful at the parish office was emphasized, especially when dealing with the formalities of the sacraments and sacramentals. It’s always a good opportunity to evangelize and talk about faith.
3. TAKING THE FLOOR
Many of the reports resounded with the emphasis on the value of and opportunities for the laity to have a voice, especially in parish councils.
Young people appreciated the existing ways and methods of listening to young people, which in the Diocese of Plock include. Annual meetings in Rostkowo, two Youth Synods, the “Stop Jesus” initiative, evangelization during music festivals in Plock. The young people pointed out that women should be given broader opportunities to take responsibility for the Church.
Today’s race for careers and the acquisition of new skills prevent many children and young people from engaging more fully in the activities offered in parishes. With many extracurricular activities, children’s and youth groups have become unattractive to some.
- Different types of councils, at different levels of diocesan life, are spaces for work and exchange of opinions. However, it seems that their potential is not always sufficiently realized. Annual meetings of parish council representatives at the parish as well as diocesan level should be valued. A special space for the exchange of voices and opinions about the Church is the one that has existed since 2007. Social Council to the Bishop of Plock.
- Despite the many changes that have taken place in the Church, there is still no shortage of priests who refuse to listen to the faithful, or even prevent them from speaking up.
- Priests should be sensitized to prepare sermons that take into account the Sitz im Leben of a particular parish, answering biblical, theological, moral, canonical questions that bother people. It would be worthwhile in the permanent formation of priests to include workshop classes in homiletics, preaching, so that sermons are not read from cards, but speak words thoughtfully, flowing from the heart and reason of the preacher. The faithful have repeatedly pointed out the low pastoral effectiveness of reading any pastoral letters from the pulpit.
- Also up for rethinking is the current way of conducting Advent and Lenten retreats. Many believers postpone confession until the end of these powerful periods in the liturgy, while retreats are attended by a small portion of the parish.
- It is necessary to improve the skills of alumni and clergy in preaching and proper language of speech, especially during liturgy.
- There is a pressing need to build proper parish and diocesan relations with the media. Only a third of the diocese’s parishes have an online presence through websites, Facebook fan pages, while a few dozen parishes publish regular parish newsletters. A proper understanding of the Church’s evangelization mission, including through the media and press, still needs to be discovered. What is needed, however, is consistent and clear communication of the truths of the faith, honest conversation about the Church and building a positive image of the Church. While sin and evil should always be condemned, especially pedophilia and other abuses of power in the Church community, care must be taken to properly portray the role of priests and laity, to build a climate of trust and concern for the common good, including in the media space. For the past few years, one can also notice a declining interest among the faithful in the Catholic press, which calls for more advertising of Catholic magazines.
- It was pointed out that there is an urgent need to rethink the social mission of the Church, and to clearly demonstrate that its mission is not to associate with certain political factions, but to build a world in which the followers of Christ will undertake various public and social tasks, forming consciences that are certain and righteous, in order to transform this world and make it more Godlike. 8. An important issue, especially in urban parishes, is to notice people living in irregular relationships, the condition of their relationships, the situation of children. Accompanying these people according to Francis’ paradigm from the exhortation Amoris laetitia (receive – accompany – discern – integrate) is one of the most important tasks of entire parish communities and district pastors of these associations today.
Questions about celebration and liturgical life in the broadest sense were commented on and discussed, especially at the level of parish communities. This probably shows concern for a very concrete aspect of the Church’s life, which is the celebration of the sacraments, sacramentals and services, through which the faithful participate spiritually and draw from the treasury of the Church, but also learn the faith according to the principle: lex orandi – lex credendi – lex vivendi.
- It was noted that there is a need today to explain to the faithful what the essence of the liturgy is, namely “worshiping the Father in Spirit and truth” (Jn 4:23). Its expression should not only be external rituals, grandeur of forms and rubric, but above all the formation of a spirit of prayer, concentration and sacrifice. Among the many challenges identified in this context was the proper moderation of the faithful’s approach to expressing remembrance of the dead through purchased flowers and candles. Maintenance of many cemeteries and waste management for many parish communities has become a cause of real financial hardship.
- Almost naturally, the need for a greater appreciation of the role of the laity in parish administration and pastoral care is manifested in the face of a drastically declining number of priestly vocations. It is necessary to review the current methods of awakening vocations and to ask the question about the role of the Higher Seminary in the whole diocese – it has always been an important theological, moral and pastoral reference point, especially in the permanent formation of priests. It is necessary to significantly strengthen and give a new spirit to the existing since the mid-20th century. Diocesan Vocation Center, which should go out especially to young people, altar servers and others involved in parish groups.
- The wisdom of the Church has always linked human concern with the liturgical year. In many parishes, effective and interesting forms of work with children and young people were pointed out: from Advent Rorats, services at the manger, to Stations of the Cross, palm contests and adoration of the Holy Sepulcher, May services, “white weeks” and rosary services.
- A disturbing phenomenon is the emerging ritualistic approach to the Mass, the instrumental treatment of canon law in the area of the celebration of the Holy Sacraments, as well as violations of Church law in matters of binning and trinction of the Mass. Many laymen have called for priests to pay more attention to the pious, unhurried celebration of the Eucharist, rather than concern for the associated Mass scholarship.
- Among the new (or modified from the past) forms of joint celebrations of feasts and liturgical solemnities are pointed out. Epiphany processions, Marches for Life and Family, spiritual adoption, indulgences combined with parish festivals, the Way of Light (Via lucis) during the Easter season.
- In an era of insensitivity to the sacred, it is necessary to teach, especially the young, to respect sacred things and places. What is needed today is a thorough liturgical catechesis, especially on how to observe silence, how to receive Holy Communion, always taking into account the current law of the Catholic Church in this matter. The Church should not be treated by the clergy and the faithful like a medicine cabinet or a supermarket where one can pick and choose what is currently needed. Rather, it is about an attitude of openness and readiness to feed on the Word and Body of the Lord in order to then carry Him to others, in priestly, religious and lay life.
- Catechesis: liturgical and mystagogical should open to the faithful the treasury of the Church’s faith and prayer, the variety of ways of celebrating the liturgy and mutual respect for those participating in it according to the law and always in union with the Successor of St. Peter. Peter. It is important to show the good fruits of the recent liturgical reform, while stigmatizing abuses in the matter. The request to surround the faithful attached to the ancient liturgy with greater pastoral care and to form them in the field of liturgical knowledge and proper liturgical spirituality resounded from the voices conveyed.
- Special care should be taken to involve the faithful in active and fruitful participation in the liturgy, including through the ministries and tasks they can fulfill. It is necessary to value lectors, psalterists, cantors, parish choirs and scholas, the orchestra, rosary circles, processional assists, confraternities and associations, and other formations that provide excellent opportunities to form the sensitivity and conscience of the faithful. Attention was given to the need for the formation of altar servers (children, youth and elders), extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, pastoral care of groups for women and men. A discussion at the diocesan level on the introduction of a permanent diaconate for men was also postulated.
- During retreats and missions, it is worth revisiting state teachings for fathers and mothers, which can be an opportunity to strengthen marital and family life.
- There have been calls from many parishes for the administration of the sacrament of Confirmation to be entrusted primarily and as a matter of principle to bishops. And in exceptional circumstances, it could be officiated by such respected priests who would be closer to the younger generation in age and realism of outlook.
- The problem of finding godparents was raised, so following the example of some dioceses in the world, a discussion of their necessity in the celebration of the sacrament of baptism was proposed.
- Attention was drawn to the need for a fundamental rethink of how the Church in Poland is funded. The current formula, associated with the celebration of the sacraments and other ministries, is a source of much misunderstanding and abuse.
5. SHARED RESPONSIBILITY IN THE MISSION
A burning and under-addressed issue is the question of a well-thought-out pastoral program for the diocese, including the crucial issue of promotion and involvement of the laity. Although the Church in Poland has an official pastoral program, it is neither known nor sufficiently understood by the clergy and laity.
- The need was expressed to develop a long-term program of pastoral work in the diocese, based not only on individual actions, but on the cooperation of the curia, priests and laity, responding to current needs. Today it is difficult to talk only about pastoral actions, rather, we need to see the need for pastoral care of specific people.
- Members of associations and groups pointed out that the Church should not just be a space for worship, but rather a promoter of leading people to God using new methods, a new range of activities, integrally shaping humanity, not just piety, through, for example, sports, culture in the broadest sense, good and decent entertainment, eating together.
- The need to rethink the implementation of canonical visitation, the activities of various types of commissions and data collection was recognized, with no clear objectives for action. The patterns established after the Council of Trent are ineffective on many levels today. Canonical visitation should be a check on the effectiveness of pastoral ways rather than merely verifying the correctness of parish administration.
- It is important to coordinate pastoral activities at the level of deaneries and dioceses, which requires greater openness to consultation and cooperation. Closed retreats for parish groups and decanal communities could be a good practice.
- It was noted that not everyone is available for all functions and offices. From the voices of the laity, it resounded that more attention should be paid to the criteria for pastor and vicar appointments, taking into account the talents as well as the limitations of specific clergy.
- They called for extending the working hours of the Diocesan Curia and the Bishop’s Court at least once a week, so that working people could also have access to them.
6. CONDUCTING DIALOGUE IN THE CHURCH AND SOCIETY
The conditions of the modern world are not conducive to dialogue, including at the diocesan and parish levels. New lines of division, manifested in church communities as well as among pastors, often cause discouragement to seek ways of convergence and peace. However, this does not mean that these difficulties cannot be overcome based on Christ’s indication and encouragement of brotherhood.
- While religious lessons offer great potential for evangelization and formation, there is a need to reflect on the way and methods of implementing them. The poor quality of these activities results in reluctance and even abandonment of youth participation.
- In the context of the sexual revolution, a pressing problem is the proper formation of the faithful and making them aware of Catholic anthropology, the doctrine of sexuality and the theology of the body, as developed by St. John Paul II. The synodal votes pointed out the need for the Church to be more concerned about homosexuals, based on the Magisterium, contained in the 1986 Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexuals by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, as well as other contemporary documents of the Catholic Church.
- Pope Francis encourages us to build bridges between generations, creating spaces of dialogue between young people and seniors. In this regard, a huge role should be played by each parish, where people of different generations can find different ways to get involved in social and community life. Not insignificant in this dimension is also the activity of senior citizens’ homes and nursing homes, where young people can discover the joy of love through volunteering and other ministries.
- Genuine dialogue also needs to be built through the work of Caritas, which is often the first stage and opening of opportunities for conversation with a person in need, the sick, the elderly, the rejected. Parish Caritas Teams, school circles and other forms of support face new challenges and opportunities for action, which should be recognized in pastoral work.
- The dialogue should also express concern for priests who have abandoned the clerical state or religious sisters and brothers who have left congregations. They are still in the community of God’s people, so they often require support and assistance and openness, which should not be defeated by the temptation to condemn.
7. WITH OTHER CHRISTIAN DENOMINATIONS
Ecumenical dialogue and interreligious dialogue open believers in Christ to the need to realize the diversity of the world, while calling for putting the Gospel message of human brotherhood and other ways of developing cooperation at the center. The truth of the Gospel, proclaimed in the Church with conviction and competence, is always the right starting point and also the goal of any dialogue. There is a long tradition of ecumenical dialogue in the Diocese of Plock, developed during the Weeks of Prayer for Christian Unity, Days of Christian Culture, as well as on the occasion of other meetings, a valuable example of which was the Ecumenical Synodal Dialogue at the headquarters of the Plock Scientific Society on January 19, 2022.
- New layers of dialogue have been revealed in recent years by the influx of refugees from Ukraine, compounded especially in early 2022. in connection with Russia’s attack on the homeland of our fellow countrymen. The real synodal dialogue took place and is still being actualized at railroad stations, in state and local government structures, and above all in the open homes of Poles who were able to welcome and help Ukrainians in need, without regard to hardship or cost. This allows us to think hopefully about other dimensions of dialogue, mixed marriages and other such challenges.
- A challenge and at the same time a huge field for action is the contemporary threat of loss of Catholic consciousness and identity of some groups of the faithful, sometimes leading to Protestantization and reproduction of activities, religious practices and ways of praying that are alien to the Catholic spirit. In the Diocese of Plock, one can see the threat of pentecostalism, the global consequences of which the Pontifical Council for the Laity has spoken extensively about. Christian Unity. This is a call for serious and thorough catechesis in the Catholic spirit.
8. POWER AND PARTICIPATION
The pastoral work of the Church of Plock is based on close ties with the universal Church and its visible head, the Successor of St. Peter. The bishop of St. Peter’s, as well as the diocesan bishop and his auxiliary bishops. This particular trait is still characteristic of ecclesiology on the Vistula, and certainly represents a great potential for the People of God, faithful to Truth and Tradition to teach, sanctify and govern the community. On the other hand, in some parishes, this creates the danger of reducing pastoral care to merely carrying out top-down “directives,” without reflecting on local capacities and needs. This is why discernment in the well-formed and righteous consciences of the pastor and the faithful is of such great importance.
The reality of the parishes of the Plock Church, like the communities of the Church in Poland, points to the enormous and still decisive role of the pastor in leadership and management. On the one hand, the social position of the clergy has changed in recent decades in Poland and a certain “normalization” of relations with the faithful. The priest, especially the parish priest, continues to be an important reference point in the lives of many people, including non-practitioners, in the life of parishes as well as other local government units. It is the priest who is often the engine of action, the initiator, the inspirer, the spiritus movens of what can be done in the sphere of pastoral, material, charitable and social activities in the space of the parish, city, municipality. Many of the faithful, encouraged by the priests, are beginning to discover their active place in the community. On the other hand, there is still a lingering belief that caring for religious objects is the domain of the priest. A not inconsiderable number of the faithful, even those involved in parish and diocesan life, prefer to be collaborators rather than decision-makers. The time of the coronavirus pandemic has made it clear that the faithful can and do feel responsibility for the Church’s temporal goods, but they should engage more widely and with a sense of greater co-responsibility in the structures already in place, such as the Church. Parish Economic Councils.
- The assessment of the quality of parish functioning in the minds of many is related to the number of faithful attending Sunday Mass. The contemporary circumstances of life, the troubles and discouragement of many of the faithful hint at going more beyond the circle of dominicantes and communicantes, especially to the peripheries of material and spiritual poverty.
- The time of the COVID-19 pandemic revealed how important inter-neighborhood relations should be in the deanery. Cooperation on the occasion of indulgences and retreats, priestly naming days and other celebrations are a good and long-established way of building good relations in the diocese.
- The current formula for canonical visitations of parishes needs to be reconsidered, as well as the appreciation and more scrupulous conduct of annual deanery visitations, which should take on more of a formula of fraternal accompaniment and, when necessary, admonition.
- The space for exchanging views about the world and the Church is the media, especially the Catholic media. They need more articles and broadcasts, “justifying that hope which is in us” (1P 3:15).
- It was pointed out that in difficult situations, priests sometimes need more support from the curia and superiors.
- In recent years, most parishes have undertaken numerous renovations to temples and parish buildings. This creates tremendous opportunities for new opportunities to carry out pastoral work.
9. DISCERNMENT AND DECISION-MAKING
In the face of various crises, a “new humanist synthesis” is needed, rethinking and constructing new projects, as Pope Benedict XVI wrote in his encyclical Caritas in veritate (Cf. BENEDICT XVI, Encyclical “Caritas in veritate,” Vatican 2009, No. 21). At the level of many deaneries, synodality and discernment are manifested in the team approach of priests in solving current pastoral issues, jointly determining activities in cities and regions, exchanging experiences, and mutual sacramental service. The organization of catechetical conferences in parishes, regular meetings of groups and associations, discussions and other occasions where listening and discerning the needs and challenges of the parish community takes place should be appreciated. It was pointed out that the role of senior priests, who are a living source of knowledge and good pastoral insights, whose voice should be more willingly and frequently heard and heeded, is not sufficiently appreciated. As the diocese stands today, they make up almost a quarter of the Plock presbytery.
- Too little reflection is undertaken at the parish, deanery and diocesan levels on the effectiveness of the activities carried out. A more detailed evaluation of the goals could result in a better selection of specific people and activities in ministry.
- Among the important factors of discernment, the following were repeatedly pointed out: living in truth, freeing oneself from frames and thought patterns, emotional stability, the influence of others, the help of competent people, the participation of the parish, deanery and diocesan community, pointing to the voice of authorities and masters.
- An extremely important time of discernment is adolescence, when girls and boys need the special accompaniment of educators, catechists and priests. This should not be neglected, especially for Confirmation candidates and high school students.
- The time and community of discernment are the religious novitiates and seminaries. The Plock Theological Seminary has been a space for learning about the Church and discerning vocations for 428 years. In addition to its educational function, it is important to remember its ever-present huge role in the permanent formation of Plock presbyters, as well as its value for the exploration of research and popularization of the study of philosophy and theology. The existence of the seminary is not only a matter of concern for vocations, but also for shaping the identity of the diocese.
- Individual forms of consecrated life – virgins and consecrated widows, which may be a sure answer to the current crisis of vocations to traditional religious communities – receive too little attention in the Church.
- It also underscored the danger of an exalted approach to religion and prayer practices, appealing only to feelings and emotions and relying little on the rational view of faith characteristic of the Catholic outlook. Proper discernment in daily life cannot be based on illusory intuition alone; it requires two wings: faith and reason, in light of which the challenges of Christian life can be met with greater courage.
10. FORMATION FOR SYNODALITY
The Diocese of Plock has a long synodal tradition in its heritage – in the nearly 950 years of its existence, 43 particular synods have been organized, along with numerous congresses, scientific symposia, pastoral days and other discussion meetings in contemporary diocesan bodies. Many parishes still have parish synodal teams, which were often the seeds of new Parish Pastoral Councils. This bodes well for the future, but it does not change the fact that a great deal of work is needed at the diocesan and individual parish levels so that the Plock Church increasingly becomes a synod and grows in the spirit of synodality.
- An important aspect of synodality is to appreciate the role of Tradition, the identity of the diocesan Church, closely linked to the Peter of our time. This feature is particularly important for understanding the teaching of the popes and teaching the correct interpretation of it to the faithful, always living by the principle: sentire cum Petro, sentire cum Ecclesia.
- Synodality requires everyone – laity and clergy – to be open-minded, willing to work and involved in the fate of the parish. A minority church, which the Catholic Church in Poland is also becoming, is a call to see specific people and specific challenges, rather than just following old pastoral patterns. The “cult” of the day off and weekends observed in recent years is incompatible with the spirit of clergy and lay commitment to the parish.
- There is a need to translate synodality into concrete work in parishes and diocesan structures, which should be served by meetings, symposia, conferences, greater involvement of clergy in this work.
- It was postulated that “synodal boxes”, including email, be left permanently in the churches, through which the synodal listening process would continue.
- The topic of synodality should be explored during the catechization of children and young people. If this is to be the way of the Church, a broad understanding of this vision is needed. This can be served by better implementation of parish catechesis, neglected in some dimensions, especially in preparation for the Holy Sacraments.
- In a special way, the role of lay women and men in ministry in the Church should be recognized. It is important to take into account their voice and capabilities in ministry in parishes, including in directing certain tasks or pastoral communities.
- All activities of Church people should be guided by the ancient principle of putting the concern for the eternal salvation of shepherds and sheep first: Salus animarum suprema lex.
Appendix 1 (As of May 15, 2022 r, slightly updated from the compilation published earlier in: W. KUĆKO, W. WYBULT, Information of the Coordinators of the Synodal Process. Summary of the summary of votes in the synodal process in the Diocese of Plock, “Circular” (2022) No. 18, s. 123-125)
SUMMARY OF VOTES COLLECTED IN THE SYNODAL PROCESS IN THE DIOCESE OF PŁOCK
I. Synodal meetings of diocesan bodies and institutions
- Diocesan Council of Priests;
- Diocesan Pastoral Council;
- Diocesan Council of Catholic Movements and Associations of the Diocese of Plock;
- Social Council to the Bishop of Plock;
- Youth Pastoral Council;
- Higher Seminary in Plock;
- Religious synodal group, composed of representatives of male and female orders, institutes of consecrated life, societies of apostolic life, virgins and consecrated widows;
- Clergy synodal groups in the diocese’s deaneries (votes were received from dean priests from the following 22 of the 28 deaneries: Bielski, Bodzanowski, Dobrzynski nad Wisłą, Gąbiński, Gostyniński, Mławski Zachodni, Nasielski, Płock East, Płock West, Płoński South, Płoński North, Przasnyski, Pułtusk, Raciński, Rypinski, Serocki, sierpecki, Strzegowski, Tłuchowski, wyszogrodzki, zakroczymski, Żuromiński);
- District synodal groups at Marian shrines in the diocese: Czerwińsk-on-Vistula, sanctuary of Our Lady of Consolation (decanates: Plonski south, Plonski north, wyszogrodzki, zakroczymski); Plock, Cathedral Basilica of St. Mary of the Cross, Plock. Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (decanates: bodzanowski, gąbiński, gostyniński, Płock eastern, Płock western); Popowo Kościelne, sanctuary of Our Lady of Popowska, Mother of Hope (decanates: nasielski, Pułtusk, serocki); Przasnysz, sanctuary of Our Lady of Immaculate Presence (decanates: ciechanowski wschodni, ciechanowski zachodni, dzierzgowski, makowski, przasnyski); Sierpc, sanctuary of Our Lady of Sierpc, Lady of Unfailing Hope (decanates: raciąski, sierpecki, strzegowski); Skępe, sanctuary of Our Lady of Skepe (decanates: Bielski, Dobrzyń nad Wisłą, Tłuchowski); Żuromin, sanctuary of Our Lady of Żuromin (decanates: Dobrzyń nad Drwęcą, Mławski Wschodni, Mławski Zachodni, Rypinski, Żuromin);
- The School of the New Evangelization of the Diocese of Plock named after him. St. Luke the Evangelist.
II. Movements, associations and other groups
- Association of Catholic Families of the Diocese of Plock;
- Parish circles from Plock of the Association of Catholic Families of the Diocese of Plock;
- Women’s synod group;
- Priestly Community of Lay Persons;
- Ecumenical synodal dialogue in the Plock Scientific Society.
III. Parishes of the Diocese of Plock, which submitted synodal votes from the meeting of parish bodies (mainly Parish Pastoral Councils; in order by deanery):
- Bielski decanate: Bonislaw; Ciachcin; Gozdowo (3 of 10 parishes);
- Bodzan decanate: Bodzan (1 of 11 parishes);
- Ciechanow eastern decanate: Ciechanow, pw. St. St. Joseph; Paluki (2 of 11 parishes);
- Ciechanow western decanate: Ciechanow, pw. Our Lady of Fatima, Ciechanow, pw. St. St. Peter the Apostle; Maluzyn; Sulerzyzh; Zeńbok (5 of 8 parishes);
- Dobrzyn deanery on the Drwęca River: Obory, Płonne (2 of 9 parishes);
- Dobrzyn decanate on the Vistula: (0 of 7 parishes);
- Dzierzgowo decanate: (0 of 7 parishes);
- Gąbin decanate: (0 of 7 parishes);
- Gostynin decanate: (0 of 7 parishes);
- Makow decanate: Makow Mazowiecki, pw. St. St. Joseph (1 of 8 parishes);
- Eastern decanate of Mława: Mlawa pw. St. St. Stanislaus BM; Szydlowo (2 of 9 parishes);
- Western Decanate of Mlawa: Mlawa, pw. Our Lady Queen of Poland; Mława, pw. St. St. John Cantius; Szreńsk (3 of 7 parishes);
- Nasielsk decanate: Nasielsk, pw. St. The following are the most important parts of the city: St. Catherine’s Church; Nasielsk, pw. St. St. Adalbert (2 of 10 parishes);
- Eastern Plock Decanate: Plock, pw. Our Lady of Fatima; Plock, pw. St. The following are the most important parts of the city: St. James; Plock, pw. St. The parishes of St. Joseph (3 of 8 parishes);
- Western Plock decanate: Brwilno; Plock, pw. St. The following are the most important parts of the city: St. Bartholomew’s Church; Plock, pw. St. The parishes of St. Sigismund (3 of 10 parishes);
- Southern Plonsk decanate: Krysk; Plonsk, pw. St. The following are the most important parts of the city: the Church of St. Michael the Archangel; Plonsk, the Church of St. Michael the Archangel. St. St. Padre Pio; Radzymin (4 of 8 parishes);
- North Plonsk decanate: Baboszewo; Królewo; Plonsk, pw. St. St. Maximilian Kolbe; Smardzewo (4 of 7 parishes);
- Przasnysz decanate: Czernice Borowe; Przasnysz, pw. Christ the Savior; Przasnysz, pw. St. St. Stanislaus Kostka; Holy Place; Węgra (5 of 9 parishes); Pultusk decanate: Zambski (1 of 12 parishes);
- Racia decanate: (0 of 10 parishes);
- Ripin deanery: Osiek; Rogowo; Ripin, pw. St. St. Stanislaus Kostka; Rypin, pw. Holy Trinity; Strzygi; Swiedziebnia (6 of 11 parishes);
- Serock decanate: Popowo; Zegrze with its seat in Wola Kielpinska (2 of the 7 parishes);
- Sierpc decanate: Sierpc, pw. St. St. Benedict’s (1 of 13 parishes);
- Strzegowo decanate: Dabrowa; Strzegowo (2 of 7 parishes);
- Tlukhov decanate: Mochowo; Skępe, pw. Divine Mercy; Tłuchowo (3 of 7 parishes);
- Wyszogrodzka decanate: Kobylniki; Mała Wieś; Orszymowo; Zukowo (4 of 9 parishes);
- Zakroczym decanate: Zakroczym (1 of 8 parishes);
- Zuromin decanate: Zieluń; Zuromin (2 of 12 parishes).
A total of 61 out of 249 parishes (≈25%) submitted reports on parish group meetings.
IV. Parishes of the Diocese of Plock that submitted synodal votes from synodal boxes (in alphabetical order):
- Gostynin, pw. Divine Mercy;
- Plock, pw. St. Sigmund;
- Plonsk, pw. St. Maximilian Kolbe;
- Ripin, pw. Holy Trinity.
A total of 8 out of 249 parishes (≈3%) submitted synod box reports.
V. Other individual votes
- Members of the Association of Catholic Families of the Diocese of Plock;
- Synodal box email@example.com – 124 votes;
- Talks at the Plock Diocesan Curia with petitioners on matters of the synodal process – 15 meetings.
VI. Other meetings
- Meeting with Cardinal. Mario Grech, Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops, in Warsaw, Poland, on Fri. March 19-20, 2022.
- Individual meetings at the curia and parish chancelleries.
Summaries of the synodal process in other dioceses, parishes and the perspective of participants in synodal meetings
Biskup Elbląski powołał dwoje współkoordynatorów: s. dr Miriam Bilska CSSJ, ks. dr Piotr Towarek, a do współpracy Michalinę Rozbicką (studentkę komunikacji medialnej). O udział i wypowiedzenie się w ramach synodu biskup zaapelował do wiernych w liście pasterskim, który został odczytany w kościołach diecezji w niedzielę 30 stycznia 2022. Wersję elektroniczną listu zamieszono także na oficjalnej stronie internetowej diecezji oraz na profilu Facebook. Aby ułatwić wypowiedzi w grupach oraz indywidualnie, diecezjalne centrum synodu przygotowało zestaw pytań pomocniczych (w oparciu o wskazania z Vademecum synodu). W dniu 8 lutego 2022 Biskup Elbląski wydał instrukcję o sposobie zwoływania i przeprowadzania spotkań synodalnych. Biskup zwrócił się z prośbą o wotum synodalne do gremiów diecezjalnych: rady kapłańskiej, rady duszpasterskiej oraz kapituły katedralnej. Podobną prośbę skierował do parafialnych rad duszpasterskich oraz funkcjonujących w diecezji organizacji, stowarzyszeń, ruchów i wspólnot.
Zakończył się etap diecezjalny Synodu o Synodalności, w którym także i my wzięliśmy udział. Owocem spotkań synodalnych jest między innymi synteza, która trafiła do Sekretariatu Synodu naszej Archidiecezji. Zapraszamy do lektury.
Stwierdzam, że szczególną wartością w Kościele jest aktywna obecność duszpasterzy starających się zaktywizować tych parafian, którzy jeszcze przychodzą do świątyni. Skupiają się głównie na prowadzeniu duszpasterstwa sakramentów. Wartością są także wierni, którzy żyją we wspólnotach jak Święta Rodzina w pokorze, prostocie i uwielbieniu Boga, i w których drugi to Chrystus. Słabością natomiast jest zanik duszpasterstwa ewangelizacji, gdyż nie dostrzegam działań duszpasterzy wśród ludzi, którzy do świątyni przestali przychodzić.
Decyzję o udziale w spotkaniach synodalnym podjęliśmy świadomie, zdając sobie sprawę, że jest to okazja do wyrażenia własnych opinii na tematy ważne dla Kościoła. Podczas kolejnych spotkań odkryliśmy w praktyce, że ich struktura (modlitwa do Ducha Świętego, lektura Pisma Świętego, życzliwe wsłuchiwanie się w wypowiedzi innych i wskazywanie, co szczególnie poruszyło nas w tym, co słyszymy) prowadzi do wartościowych wniosków niekiedy całkiem odmiennych od założeń, z którymi docieraliśmy na spotkania synodalne. Dla nas to dowód na działanie Ducha Świętego i głęboką wartość spotkań synodalnych.