Synodal motions prepared according to other keys
Some synodal motions were prepared according to keys other than the 10 synodal questions.
We present them here.
Wszystkie syntezy w jednym dokumencie PDF
– The synod cannot be about presenting a wish list, but is supposed to lead to personal commitment and responsibility.
– It is necessary to supplement school catechization, or to conduct catechesis for adults in the parish.
– People’s faith often remains at the level of a third-grader’s knowledge. There is a profound need for catechization of adults – those in communities, but also those so-called “adult catechists. Sunday Catholics. What is missing is “religion for adults” and a place where fundamental religious questions are answered.
– It is important not to stop at the intellectual level of a nine-year-old, because that will also be our spiritual level.
– Catechesis for adults is necessary for the sake of children, as parents lack adequate knowledge and need support, and without this they withdraw from their duty to raise their children in the faith.
– Confirmation is an important moment in the development of faith. It should be accompanied by parental intercession, such as special Masses and retreats. Adolescents studying in the eighth grade are admitted to the sacrament of Confirmation. This is a particularly difficult period in the lives of young people, they need support and discipline to prepare them well. However, if the Church wants to show that the Mass is more than a signature in the index, then why do young people collect signatures for Confirmation. This function can, and in fact should, be performed by the parents of the person being confirmed.
– The church in a parish does not know that it is the church – in a typical parish there is no sense of community, there is a far-reaching breakdown of the social bonds of the faithful, and the existing parish groups do not form a single community. The lack of community is not the result of clericalization, it is not about the division between priests and laity, it is about the way the parish functions and operates, in the parish we are side by side, but not together. Creating a community out of a parish is certainly a synodal task. These anomalies can be resolved in different ways and yes:
- lead to joint meetings of the various groups
- Agree on the principles of cooperation between groups and go public with the results
- proper information about the current activities of the various groups using available media, e.g. Internet.
– Communities must not close themselves off to others. Maybe every once in a while you could say that there is a community here and here that is doing this and that. Individual groups should speak publicly about their work and tasks during feast days or individual group days at masses celebrated for their intentions, for example. Caritas during Mercy Sunday, etc.
– The change in practices in the Church is glaring. Lost is the truth that it is God who is the true healer.
– Periodic information is needed: number of weddings, baptisms, funerals, financial needs, future plans.
– The importance of common prayer (the sign of the cross at a shared meal) and prayer support should be reiterated, as well as parental blessing of children – verbally and in the form of a cross drawn on the forehead, and the blessing of young children in church should be resumed with the collection of the tray.
– In “schools teach religion, not religious studies.” Catechesis in school, seems to have failed in its task. Lack of continuity of spiritual care for youth entering adulthood.
– Lack of unity in the Church (LGBT lobby) and the Vatican’s ambiguous positions on the issue.
– Relegating to the margins and discriminating against people and views that relate to traditional Church teaching.
– Protestant “churches” are treated as equals.
From the abundant material collected during synodal meetings at various levels of Church life in the Archdiocese of Czestochowa, as well as from the responses to the questionnaires sent out and from comments sent to social media sites and profiles, three groups of voices and requests were identified that recurred most frequently. These are: the need for the sacred; the problem of inter-personal and inter-community relations; and building a clear vision of how the Church functions in the pastoral and institutional areas. These three groups of applications will be discussed below. It should be added that in the collected synodal material there were many voices referring to specific parishes, communities, temples or individuals. These were specific problems, the discussion and solution of which concern the mentioned realities. They are not listed in the following synthesis, as they relate to individual cases and individual problems and are not general in nature.
The third group of synodal conclusions concerns the functioning of the Church itself. Some of the most recurring areas can be identified in these conclusions. These are: evangelization activities, pastoral activities and matters of functioning of the Church as an institution. If one were to rank the order in which these areas were discussed according to the number of opinions reported, the most important part of them concerned pastoral vision, followed by institutional issues, and the least important – evangelization issues. Among the voices gathered, a static vision of the Church is still evident, and the prevailing opinion is that it is necessary to preserve what is. There is less interest in undertaking new evangelization or missionary activities. Much attention was also paid to the issue of a coherent vision for the functioning of the diocesan Church. It should be noted that especially during the synodal meetings, including those of the priesthood, questions about the vision or strategy of the Church were among the most difficult, and there were often opinions about the lack of such a vision or idea for healing some of the problems of Church life.
126.96.36.199 A coherent vision for the functioning of the Church at different levels
- Diocesan level
The synodal votes referred to the functioning of the diocese at the central level. It is expected that it is within the diocese that pastoral programs with clearly defined goals and objectives should be developed. These programs should be multi-year and consistently implemented, so that the archdiocese’s actions are not spontaneous, one-time or action-oriented. Within the central diocesan institutions, there should be more synodality, joint meetings, more attention should be paid to coordination of activities and self-monitoring.
- Decanal level
In view of the changing external conditions of the Church of the Czestochowa archdiocese, the need to create a pastoral vision and joint pastoral actions at the level of deaneries or individual cities was noted. Declining numbers of the faithful and the fragmentation of parishes are increasingly creating the need for a more integrated decanal ministry. It’s about both greater cooperation among priests – without narrowing their involvement to just their own parish – and the creation of communities and pastoral initiatives for the entire region or deanery.
- Parish level
The synodal votes also included comments on a coordinated vision for the parish. Often the only clear program of a parish is the course of the liturgical year, and consequently the activities and celebrations designated by it. There is a lack of a common vision for groups’ formation activities, pastoral initiatives, charity, and even administrative or renovation work.
188.8.131.52 Pastoral area
Many of the comments collected in the synodal material deal with purely pastoral issues. There were so many of these voices and they were so diverse that the most recurring ones will be enumerated here:
- moving away from the model of the parish as a place of religious services, and making it a community of life for believers;
- greater openness of parishes to the involvement and presence of lay people;
- Taking seriously the appointment and functioning of parish councils;
- Spiritual and pastoral formation of adults at parishes;
- Building authentic communities of Christian life at parishes;
- Creating spaces for the integration of the faithful in the parish and mutual bond-building among them;
- Concern for the proper and in-depth formation of the Liturgical Altar Service;
- obligation to create at least one community for young people at the parish;
- Development and implementation of pastoral and formative methods for children;
- prepare the laity for the ministries of extraordinary ministers (there were also voices against this ministry) and other types of ministries in the parish and diocese;
- greater concern for the integrated formation of animators and community leaders, involving them in the common care of the diocesan Church;
- more evangelistic preparation of catechists in the archdiocese;
- to adapt the formation of future priests to the changing reality and mentality of the people, so that they are more prepared for missionary and evangelization activities;
- There were relatively few votes on the Church’s charitable ministry.
184.108.40.206 Institutional area
During the synodal meetings and in the opinions collected, there was also no shortage of discussion and addressing of administrative, material and institutional issues. These voices were most often in the form of general demands, and rarely proposals for specific solutions. Among other things, it touched on. issues:
- Financial transparency in the diocese, parishes and communities;
- greater openness to the laity in the work of diocesan and parish institutions,
- more modern, integrated and efficient management of the Church’s assets;
- greater investment in pastoral and evangelization activities;
- create better infrastructure for pastoral activities in parishes (many parishes lack meeting rooms for communities and groups, and many are neglected and poorly equipped);
- better communication of information about the activities of the diocesan Church (diocesan website – quality and service; creation of applications for better communication among the faithful).
220.127.116.11 Evangelization area
It was mentioned above that there were relatively few references to the Church’s missionary and evangelization activities in the synodal material. However, this does not mean that these voices were not present at all. Most often, they were formulated in the form of general slogans such as “it is necessary to reach out better to the young,” “the Church must go out more to non-believers and those who have left the Church,” “the Church should be more open to the lost and wounded.” It was difficult to find specific evangelization proposals in the surveys and among the synodal votes. Those that did appear included: conducting courses on the New Evangelization; creating retreat and evangelization teams in the diocese for better preparation of parish, school and other retreats; creating an evangelization fund in the archdiocese to provide material support for evangelization initiatives; introducing “evangelization workshops” in the formation of seminarians, and the ongoing formation of priests and catechists.
- The church is a home for me, a field hospital
- currently the Church is aging, young people are leaving it, but in theological terms the Church is not aging: it is young
- a new language for evangelization is needed, as well as the ability to listen to others and empathize: We hope that the synodal process will help develop the method and style with which we are to enter into dialogue with the modern world.
- “we look forward to the reaffirmation and full implementation of the Second Vatican Council”.
- it is necessary to return to the teaching of John Paul II
- the work of the 2021-23 synod must not make the mistakes that occurred, for example, in the national synod in the Netherlands after the Second Vatican Council, as well as at the so-called “national synod”. the synodal path of the Church in Germany
- there are good contacts between the faithful of the Roman Catholic Church and the Greek Catholic Church
- there is ecumenism in families and practical ecumenism, e.g. care for historic denominational cemeteries
- people from the so-called. marginalized and minorities are generally met with respect and tolerance, regardless of their beliefs and attitudes
- Church does not give a sense of security and closeness
- The laity feel unheard by their pastors, their voice is not heard enough in the Church, “the voice of the laity… is not treated equally with the voice of pastors”
- Religiously neglected laity are humiliated by priests
- priests often treat the laity in a patriarchal and feudal manner, lack of partnership between clergy and laity
- Priests don’t have time to dialogue with the laity
- Priests create and maintain distance from the laity, are often too withdrawn, do not seek contact with the laity….
- in many statements, a kind of dissatisfaction, resentment, frustration against the clergy is revealed on the part of the laity. There is also the expectation of equating the laity with the clergy… “more to be than to command”….
- Parishes lack a forum for lay Catholics to meet and dialogue
- Pastoral ministry is ossified, lack of lively sermons
- Priests are impatient and careless during confessions
- Pastors not open to any changes
- in many parishes there are no councils mandated by church law, or they function only formally, minimally
- Priests today are resigning from working with children and young people (among other reasons, due to fear of being accused of pedophilia)
- priests not held accountable for pedophilia crimes
- Because of the scolding by priests, the faithful, especially young people, are leaving the Church
- Clergy homosexuality, pedophilia, alcoholism, turning a blind eye to priests’ liaisons with women, do not meet with a strong response from the church authorities
- Sexual abuse by priests and bishops is painful
- Hierarchy’s private statements cause concern and confusion
- Quite often, the lay faithful are not satisfactorily informed by the parish priest about projects and investments undertaken in the parish; lack of preliminary information and discussion about planned conservation work in parishes
- Lack of proper care for non-sacramental relationships in the Church
- In churches, we often meet the so-called. kitsch, e.g., infantile decorations
- unacceptable is the promotion of the so-called. marriages for all
- there is resentment against Pope Francis over the reduction of Tridentine Masses and populism
- The church is currently in crisis
- there is a crisis of faith, among other things. into the deity of Jesus Christ
- Religious instruction in schools is not enough, Christian initiation is needed
- formation and training of lay people is needed
- aggression against Christians by non-believers appears
- there is the problem of finding godparents who meet the requirements of church law, but the pastoral council of the diocese does not support the solutions used, for example, in contemporary Italy, i.e. resignation of godparents.
- a better solution is to retain at least one godparent (who meets the requirements). The institution of godmothers has a great tradition and should not be easily abandoned.
- In opposition to the tradition of administering baptism to children, some secularists present the view that a person should decide for himself as an adult about his baptism.
- Symptoms of professional burnout are noticeable in many priests
- Internet preachers sometimes manifest their dislike of Pope Francis
- there is a crisis of vocations to the priesthood (the reasons include the crisis of families, the lack of appropriate role models in the persons of priests)
- contact and communication between the parish priest and catechists (religion teachers at school) is unsatisfactory
- on the part of Catholics, there is no aggression, no resentment, toward Christians of other faiths (they are a small group in the Elbląg diocese); official contacts are limited to a week of prayers for Christian unity at several points in the diocese.
- Sometimes Catholics face hostility or aggression from non-believers
- Communities activate pastoralists to be active, spur them to action
The meetings resulted in the accumulation of knowledge, which can be put into buzzwords and themes.
18.104.22.168 Need to expand intellectual and spiritual pastoral offerings.
The faithful pointed out the need for regular deepening of religious knowledge – among other things. expect well-prepared catechesis for adults, especially on the liturgy and the Eucharist. They bore witness to their devotion to the Church and their love of prayer, especially adoration of the Blessed Sacrament (they expressed their request for the creation of adoration places and the extension of the temple’s opening hours during the day).
22.214.171.124 Need to bridge the gap between clergy and laity.
Among the difficulties in the Church is the lack of ties between Church members, both within the laity and between the laity and the clergy, as well as between the clergy themselves, including the hierarchy of the Church. The lack of a sense of community is noted not only at the parish level, but also at the diocesan and universal Church levels. The lack of community ties manifests itself, among other things. anonymity and treating the faithful as a collection of parishioners and the lack of an individual approach to a particular person. Half of the synod’s statements deal with the difficulties the faithful have experienced in communicating with pastors (from simple daily contact to issues of shared responsibility).
The faithful are pained by the fact that some clergymen lead dual, worldly lives, are attached to material matters, escape into activism, and forget about spirituality and the apostolate. The result of such attitudes is a distance from the faithful, especially from simple people of faith, focusing on the duties of administration, management, rather than on actions guided by concern for the salvation of each person who has been entrusted to priests by the One God and placed on their path of vocation. They also raised the issue of transparency and the inability to resolve cases of abuse in the Church.
126.96.36.199 A greater burden of responsibility for the Church falls on the clergy.
Various communities, including young people, complain about the difficulty of finding their place in the Church. The evangelization (catechization) offer is unattractive, causing these people to leave the Church or adopt a passive attitude. There have been claims about the low level of catechesis and the lack of adequate programs for particular age groups of young people, resulting in the extinguishing of faith.
Catholic media was found to be fading among many others. It was suggested that the Church invest in modern communication and teaching tools, as well as cultural events to promote the good that comes from the Church. The possibility of involving competent laymen would give the desired effect in this matter. This is illustrated by positive examples such as running the social media of parishes and communities or broadcasting prayer and preparing evangelization materials.
188.8.131.52 Polarization of Catholics.
A clear division has been drawn between the faithful who prefer the Tridentine rite, do not accept the reception of Holy Communion. on hand and in a standing posture, as well as for those with different liturgical sensitivities.
Modern evangelization work is taking place in highly secularized environments, especially through the media. This causes missionary fervor to diminish quickly. In this connection, the faithful expressed their understanding of the hardships associated with the service of clergy and catechists in the Church, and noted the need to provide support for priests, such as organizing communities for them, where priests can receive assistance. The pastoral work undertaken by the clergy also calls for bringing seminary education closer to the realities of life, so that future priests can learn to communicate at different levels that take into account the diverse life realities of the communities to which they will be sent. . The scientific community has drawn attention to the need for competent use of the visual sphere and visual perception in the life of the Church (in catechesis, pastoral care, liturgy), as well as the need to use reliable and up-to-date scientific knowledge for the formation of both consecrated persons and laity. The community of consecrated persons expressed regret over the failure to use their charismatic evangelization potential. It declared its readiness to undertake new initiatives with a vocation and the promotion of Christian values (such as the festival of nuns).
Priests complained about the passivity of the laity, their lack of responsibility for organizing the life of the parish, the habit of having everything taken care of by the priest, an approach to the Church in which clientelism reigns, and the parish is treated as a place to provide and buy services within the framework of a cultivated tradition. A characteristic feature of parishioners’ attitudes is their individualism, which consists in limiting themselves to personal satisfaction with participation in the liturgy (however not always and not necessarily in a full way), which is reflected, among other things, in the relatively weak response to the invitation to express themselves on the topics proposed by the Synod. The disconnect between the declaration of faith or commitment to the Church and the practice of parishioners’ daily lives is strong, as evidenced by living in non-sacramental relationships and the large and growing divorce rate in Catholic marriages.
Feedback statements largely indicated a positive experience with synodality. The meetings provided an opportunity to express pain and concern for the Church; resulted in the joy of getting to know other people and seeing the Church from a different perspective – “from the inside”; and it was hoped that this would contribute to new pastoral initiatives. The people attending the meetings believed that they were important, and the mere opportunity to voice their opinions was significant for them.
Parents and caregivers of people with disabilities, especially autism, have asked to organize evangelization activities and masses. For this environment. The motive behind the request was the embarrassment they experience during Mass. for all the faithful when their children (wards) distract liturgical participants with their behavior.
The homeless community spoke highly of the Church, emphasizing the value of catechesis, the sacraments and charity.
The non-heteronormative community has expressed itself about the Church as a social good. The value of the sacraments was emphasized. A desire was expressed for understanding on the part of the Church for people who are believers, who desire the sacraments, but who identify, for example, with the LGBT community and thus find no place for themselves in the Church.
Statements made by young people and concerning the departure of young people from the Church pointed out that evangelizers must recognize the type of narrative that reaches the mentality of the younger generation. The novelty, the variety of events and actions, the quality of the presentation of the kerygma should be taken into account. Contributions from Synod participants underscored the need to shift the focus from religious knowledge to the experience of spirituality.
Statements made by people from the so-called “so-called” “other people. The periphery has shown that people desire a relationship with God, even while being in an irregular life situation and contrary to the moral teachings of the Church. These people feel loved by God but rejected by the Church.
We have noted important voices on the functioning of parish councils. The syntheses collected show that there are parishes in our archdiocese in which parish councils operate vigorously (parishioners positively evaluate the work of the councils, the effect of cooperation is visible), but there are also parishes in which councils have been established, but meetings are held rarely (parishioners do not know who is a member of the council, the effect of cooperation is not visible). Members of some synodal teams report that in their parishes the councils are only nominal (parishioners don’t even know they exist, meetings don’t take place, and the faithful signal their pastor’s unwillingness to cooperate). Opinions about the functioning of councils in parishes are confirmed by assessments of the influence of the faithful on parish decisions and statements regarding the participation of the faithful in planning pastoral tasks. On the one hand, we can see fruitful cooperation between priests and the faithful (in some parishes, the laity and priests organize together, carry out pastoral tasks – examples include sharing groups, leading retreats, supporting parishioners’ initiatives, pointing out difficulties and mistakes and jointly looking for solutions), on the other hand, priests close themselves off to cooperation (it seems that the pastor acts one-man in such parishes, and parishioners have no influence on the discernment and planning of pastoral tasks).
Priests, too, expecting activity from the lay faithful, note a lack of commitment and willingness to get involved in pastoral initiatives, saying that few people participate in organized events. The lack of cooperation and solidarity between parishes is emphasized, and suggestions are expressed that if parish ties exist, it is probably at the level of private contacts between priests.
- Since there has been a decline in the number of people attending the Eucharist and services, the reasons were considered to be: attending mainly just out of tradition and not out of true faith, lack of awareness of what happens at the Eucharist, for example, and lack of silence after the homily and reception of the Eucharist.
- People who are in church have to listen to the grievances of priests against those who are not in church, homilies are not preached in language that is understandable, and it must be remembered that most people do not have a theological education.
- The cry was often raised to take care of the quality of homilies, which should be based on the Word and resulting from its meditation, addressing the problems of the faithful, free from political commentary.
- Increase social media presence also through a place to share opinions, give the opportunity to ask questions – this can be passed on to the young to
- Catholic media are indispensable, especially for the elderly and sick, the value of broadcasts on Radio Maryja and Television Trwam was emphasized. Print media are discouraged by their price and the political topics they cover.
- The issue of the low attractiveness of “Przewodnik Katolicki” was also raised, there is no room in it for local news, one-sided political focus, the articles are over-intellectualized, written in unintelligible language, it lacks testimonies of faith, there are no reports on places to go in the archdiocese, too much psychology. It should include issues primarily concerning religious life, as such texts will not be found in other secular newspapers.
- The timeliness of the diocesan website is appreciated, it was noted that information is not published on the site from all parishes, as well as there is no uniform advertising of all ministries.
- Lack of ability to listen and look through the prism of the parish, everyone sees only their own issues, some pastors are closed to the opinion of the faithful, consider themselves infallible and are closed to suggestions from parishioners.
- There are no higher values today, all that matters is consumption and pleasure. The change in the mentality of modern man results in the loss of ideals, laziness and indifference.
- Community members often behave towards people outside the community as if only they have a monopoly on salvation, they are hermetically sealed.
- Lack of concern for the cooperation of various parish groups to jointly undertake evangelization actions and not compete with each other (instead of competition – cooperation).
- The Church is well organized in structures, but it does not use them, especially when it comes to councils. Suggestions to revive this: the need for meetings for young people at the decanal level, since not every parish has a youth ministry, some are deprived of the opportunity to be in community.
- It was noted that the language used by the Church is often for children and young people incomprehensible, uncommunicative, and is inadequate to current reality. The simple and vivid language of Pope Francis was cited as a good example.
- It was pointed out that there is a need to change the way of communication, reaching out with information about events in the parish, explaining the liturgy in an accessible way, the meaning of the various gestures, in order to participate more consciously in the liturgy.
- The need for greater involvement of extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion and their ongoing formation was emphasized.
- They pointed out the need for better formation of young priests so that they do not close themselves off and are more open to working with the laity and, above all, are witnesses to the faith.
- Young people especially emphasized the need for authentic witness of priests and pointed out the need for the formation of lay animators for youth ministry.
- The reports stated that the parish council should have more influence over financial matters in the parish, indicating that parish economic councils are not properly performing the tasks for which they were established, or that economic matters are handled by parish pastoral councils, which should not be the case.
- Parish groups are alive, but they are often not missionary, they are hermetically sealed in their structures, communities do not know each other and do not experience unity. There is inadequate cooperation between the various communities and ministries in the diocese. Coordination of parish activities with diocesan activities is needed. It is worth preparing a joint calendar with initiatives from all groups and joining together to promote various works and events. In many parishes, the lack of pastoral care is explained by construction issues.
- The lack of involvement of priests in events that are undertaken in the archdiocese resounded as a serious pastoral problem. For example, vocation initiatives of the Seminary, days of recollection organized by the diocese, retreats, ceremonial courses, diocesan and national pilgrimages.
- It has often been pointed out that there are too long pastoral announcements. It is better to teach people to read them on the website, otherwise they overshadow all the beauty of the liturgy.
- They called for the return of state teachings at retreats and more concern for the level of homilies.
- Carol visits should be sustained, as the absence of caroling means the absence of blessing of apartments and houses.
- It is requested that financial matters in the diocese and parishes be reviewed. The faithful are unaware of the costs associated with the operation of the parish, as well as how the funds are disposed of and accounted for.
- The syntheses also show a clear desire for bishops to be closer to ordinary people, to have meetings, for example during visitation, to be able to talk, since in the current form only a select few have access to the bishop.
- Examples of solutions from parishes in the indicated issues: education in the Parish Monthly instead of read parish announcements, printing announcements along with the Sunday Gospel, organizing central celebrations of religious and patriotic character alternately in individual parishes in the city or deanery
Listed below are the problems, suggestions, conclusions and demands that form the warp of the diocesan co-responsibility for the local Church. Their enumeration is not ordered by degree of importance or scope of impact. On the contrary, it goes directly to a certain spontaneity, which probably most captures the nature of all that happened during the diocesan stage of the Synod. Thus, the following issues were raised:
Overloading the pastoral work of priests. Many priests complain of difficulties arising from meeting the religious needs of the faithful. They are being implemented, but not sufficiently. It is sometimes difficult to cover all associations operating in a parish with pastoral care updated, for example, through weekly meetings. There was an idea to develop supra-parish pastoral care, such as in cities or deaneries. Here there is a need for coordination led by the dioceses’ central institutions, which have generally been found not to work properly. The help is not to collect surveys, but to hold formative meetings and take real action. It has been noted that pastors who do well with a particular specialized ministry should be supported, rather than being assigned other tasks that are even more involved, causing internal chaos and external disorganization. You have to measure your strength against your intentions! There is a danger of “professional” burnout, and when personal prayer is lacking, spiritual acedia as well.
Some of the discussion of the problems seems to be captured by the saying: “Anyone could have done it, and no one did,” in reference to the poem: “Everyone, Someone, Anyone and No One.” Many Christians participate in criticism of the Church. The claims of the faithful against priests are being revealed. It can be said that, for the most part, the accusations are made by Christians who are more involved in the life of the Church than those who are actually all the same. It happens that their initial activity, characterized by evangelistic concern and disinterestedness, in problematic situations turns into criticism of church institutions or outright clergy of the parish community. Where does it come from? During the discussion, many answers were given. Attention was paid to church-social conditions (e.g., few priests, declining attendance at Sunday liturgy), work-family situations (e.g., haste, fatigue, inability to cope with stress), spiritual-religious condition (e.g., not enough prayer). Rather, synthesizing, the problem was seen in the scarcity or excess of some element, belonging to the quantitative category: not enough of something or something is too much! Above all, a cure was seen in the improvement of the quantitative condition. However, there were also voices that spoke of the need for qualitative changes that absolutely come from approving Christian spiritual formation. She, by design, transforms any “quantity” – with the help of God’s grace – into “quality.” Isn’t conversion a qualitative quantity!
Next topic on conversion. It is impossible to explain it here, nevertheless, in the statements of Synod participants it appears as one of the most important, if not the most important. Conversion has become an “object” of wishes, as well as dreams. It was also present in the charges and indictments. Without going into the shades of its presentation, conversion or the call to conversion has become and is the subject of all outlined evangelization plans. Phrases such as: “synodal conversion,” “pastoral conversion,” “ecological conversion,” even “pastoral conversion” as the core of pastoral ministry. Everyone is expected to convert, but it has been stated that the evangelistic attitudes of the so-called “evangelicals” are not a problem. evangelizers often lack the virtue of longevity, remarkably characteristic of educational processes in general and Christian spiritual formation in particular. Well, “an immature champion, focusing on small successes, squanders his achievement (the degree of mastery achieved), the glue of which, after all, is a far-reaching goal.” One is reminded of the proverb: “One must dream of the stars to at least reach the tops of the trees.” Evangelical conversion, a conversion characterized by a “constant choice of Christ” while rejecting “the world and its enticements,” according to Synod participants, was and is being vigorously considered.
The discussions, inspired especially by biblical texts, sought a panacea for certain rifts inherent in the Church. However, less was entered into the basic source of the lack of unity, which is personal sin, behind which are, among other things, the search for meaning, the fear of losing the pleasure experienced or simply greed. One stopped at not caring enough to work out a common goal. Even if far-reaching goals were agreed upon, the actions to actually achieve them were outlined vaguely, as small-minded. Mention was made, for example, of nationwide pastoral programs that were inadequately adopted to diocesan conditions and, in fact, did not even inspire individual parish pastors. They were virtually absent from Parish Councils. Incidentally, it was stated that the focus should not be so much on deficiencies, which many find “fascinating,” but more and more explain the goal, so that it, as it were, with its “power” attracts, arouses the desire to achieve it. In the context of concern for unity, those causes that paralyzed, even prevented, the spiritual development of marriages and families were also analyzed. Attempts were also made to diagnose neighborhood, parish and local government life. The issue of priestly unity in the deaneries was also not overlooked. The theme of unity included the issue of helping refugees, caring for the poor and excluded, especially socially conflicted people. These were all considered in the specific circumstances formulated by the pandemic, the war in Ukraine or the general “overload”, which does not even have a name! In sum, it was absolutely stated that God is the source of unity, and the path leading to it was also prompted by Him.
The synodal discussion also touched on youth issues. First of all, it was pointed out that youth is not a problem, but a challenge. Even if it seems that young people are “outside” the Church, there are pre-evangelization “seeds” in themselves that need to be extracted, gently purified and supported to bear fruit. One such “seed” is ideology. To others – conscience or the need for companionship. These “seeds” or “leaven,” often “chosen,” will bear their spiritual fruit in a climate of interest, openness and kindness. The grassroots initiatives of the youth must not be extinguished! It can be seen that the young man can really “squeeze” a lot out of himself to achieve the goal. However, the realization of this goal, bought with great effort, does not always promote personal maturation, for which the moral-religious spine is fundamental. Only good thought along with toil (asceticism) leads to virtue!
In recent years, four religious congregations have left the Diocese of Legnica: the Carmelite Sisters, the Borromean Sisters, the Presentation Sisters and the Servite Sisters. The signal of this fact must resound here. Not everything can be explained by a lack of vocations. Concern for religious sisters in the diocesan community cannot be casual, and economic or organizational matters are secondary to the prayerful background of consecrated persons.
An attitude of gratitude is not easy. Experienced as a realization of virtue, it leads to glorifying God at any place and at any time. It begins with a child’s smile in front of a parent, rejoices the heart of a neighbor and then a catechist and educator, and matures in the parish and local community. Sometimes it is missing. Then everything wilts! The neighbor ceases to be a brother, and becomes a stranger, and then an enemy, and then already other people only torment, then the personal plan for life falls apart, because simply a good thought escapes. During the synod meetings, it was communicated and carefully analyzed that the personal acquisition of gratitude and the conscious formation of attitudes of gratitude in others is the key to the renewal of the ecclesiastical and then national community.
Diocesan shrines are important places of worship in the Diocese of Legnica. Some of them are special: the Marian shrine in Krzeszów and the shrine of St. Joseph. The company is based in St. Jack’s Church in Legnica. It is also increasingly necessary to “publicize” the sanctuary in Legnickie Pole and raise awareness that the ongoing beatification process is a special time of grace for Diocesans! It is necessary to intensify the pilgrimage traffic associated with them. Let centers of Christian culture be created around the shrines, and in a broad sense, thus bringing out regional richness as well.
There are a relatively large number of clergy in our diocese who hold at least a doctorate. This by no means detracts from those who hold a master’s or bachelor’s degree in theology. For it is not about titles, but a longing for a fuller understanding of God, man and the world. It is necessary to tirelessly look for newer and newer ways to properly manage the intellectual potential of above all clergy and lay catechists. Nowadays, you can start to do this around the Diocesan Library named after the founder. The St. John Paul II Museum, which has a very rich collection. It has been noted in this matter that personal action is more fruitful than mass-formal action. The sharing of experiences showed that intellectual formation is the workhorse of a healthy spiritual formation, even when the human, pastoral or also apostolic formation of lay Catholics falls short. To follow Christ, one must first know and love Him! Reversing this order leads to activities, even ambitious and innovative, but always aimed at sensationalism and self-promotion, which certainly do not reveal an evangelistic spirit. Following Pope Francis’ reminder, well-conducted systematic intellectual formation is meant to protect against deformation of the Christian message (see Evangelium gaudium 39) and distortion of the full meaning of the evangelization mission (see Evangelium gaudium 176). Spirituality needs study and prayer, it needs a library and a temple all along the path of Christian and priestly life.
In order for there to be a conversion that can be called “synodal,” and therefore appreciating communion, participation and mission, it is necessary to turn to Him who is the Source gushing toward eternal life (cf. John 4:14). God’s grace always mobilizes man, opens him to “yet…!”, while personal sin only “paralyzes” and provokes complaint: “again!”. This Source, i.e. God, who revealed Himself in the Son, in the power of the Holy Spirit, must be discovered and led to Him. The Church does this because it constantly leads to the two tables: the Word of God and the Eucharist; it leads through diakonia and the purifying sacraments, which should be promoted far more emphatically in the world of today’s entanglements: spiritual-religious, psychological-somatic and personal-social.
The Church is the place where the sacraments are administered. The faithful, in order to make good use of them, should understand their nature. A special place is given to the Eucharist, which is the source and summit of the Christian life, and the sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation. Both sacraments have a pedagogical character. Christ himself teaches sacrificial love and forgiveness. The task of priests should be, according to the synodal teams, to explain the various parts of the Mass as often as possible: signs, gestures and attitudes. It is also the desire of the faithful that at least a brief commentary on the readings (homily) be present during weekday liturgies as part of the liturgy of the word. In addition, there is a call for greater accessibility to the sacrament of penance, which should be celebrated without rushing with individual instruction.
Of particular importance during the Eucharist is preaching (homily). In order for preached homilies to bear proper fruit, they should be preached in language that can be understood. It would be necessary to explain basic concepts such as love, sin, sacrifice, fasting more often, and to preach the word of God in a historical and contemporary context, as well as taking into account existential and social factors.
Members of the synodal teams have observed with concern the passivity of the laity in their parish communities, i.e. the poor implementation of the duties flowing from the sacraments of baptism and confirmation. In order for lay people not involved in parish life to feel at home in the parish, it is necessary to return to the Council’s concept of the parish as a community of communities. Therefore, it seems right to restore the actual functioning, or create from scratch, the interfaces of communication. This includes, for example, the parish councils: pastoral and economic. It is known that the decisive vote always belongs to the pastor, nevertheless the advisory bodies or formation communities, should serve the lay faithful for proper growth in the Church.
It should be added that dialogue between clergy and laity is hampered in many places. Thus, the problem of forming new communities arises. According to lay members of synod groups, this may have to do with specific old schemes, clericalism and ossification of structures.
The Church, in order not to lose the younger generation, should listen to the voice of the youth. In order to be able to shape this generation, it is necessary to first hear them, find out what problems they have, what they live by; especially since they have no religious formation in their families today. A special task here, according to synod groups, rests with parents, priests and catechists. It seems that an attitude of listening, authenticity and respect are essential for establishing relationships with the younger generation.
The Church should take care of its weakest members first and foremost. In the Church we have many such groups, such as the divorced or at least members of the broader LGBT group, who have not left the Church community. They should be given special care through various initiatives: specialized pastoral care, openness to their concerns on the part of priests and laymen, discerning their problems and offering assistance. However, the essence of the Church’s teachings should be shown as part of such activities.
One of the tasks of the Church is to care for unity. It should be manifested both within the universal Church and at the level of the local Church: diocese or parish. At the local level, according to Synod members, a threat to unity involving the formation of two factions is increasingly being observed. The first, the so-called. liberal, contesting some of the doctrinal truths. The other, which is stricter, does not recognize Holy Communion, for example. on hand or opts to celebrate only Mass. In the Tridentine rite. If this dispute is not transformed into a path of growth toward diversity in the Church, painful injuries and splits can occur.
Members of the synodal teams recognized the need to emphasize that the Church is to become more communal, rather than moving toward an expanded office. It’s about a space where pastors are accessible to people, create places that foster relationship building and encourage dialogue. It should be stated that a large part of the faithful perceive the parish as a “service point.” However, young people in particular are looking for spiritual authorities, guides, good confessors or simply friends and shepherds. It is worth emphasizing the aforementioned issues during seminary formation. The synodal teams also wanted to emphasize the importance of passion and authenticity in priestly ministry.
An essential element in the operation of the Church, and one that is both sensitive and emotionally charged, is finance. In many countries the matter is more transparent, for example, the faithful pay a tax. In Poland, the Church subsists on the offerings of the faithful. Members of the synodal groups believe that the Polish model is more favorable because of the educational dimension. This is because it teaches to love, to share what God gives, or to see material goods as means to salvation. However, for the model to function properly and not raise tensions, maximum transparency is needed. Detailed reports presented to the general faithful are postulated. This can be done, for example, through the parish economic council. The elected members of such a body should have an advisory voice in the context of the investments undertaken.
The deliberations in the Diocese of Lowicz focused on several topics:
The deliberators noted the sharply declining number of young people joining the life of the Church community. The propositions of modernity seem to draw in young people too much, who often do not even notice the need to deepen their spirituality. It is necessary, therefore, to look for ways to reach young people. Communicate to them the truth about Jesus Christ using language they can understand, without impoverishing the truth that the Gospel brings. It has been suggested that the Church wants to return to its roots, drawing from the first Christians, the attitudes of the Saints, that is, first of all, to preach the Word of God and administer the sacraments.
Young people find themselves especially in small parish communities, because there they most often receive support and can concretely feel responsible for the community. It is necessary, therefore, to form the youth in small groups so as to show them how they are needed.
A vocation is the discovery of God’s will in a person’s life. It is carried out primarily in prayer, which is why it is so important to give young people space for community and individual prayer. It is necessary to show the Lord God, who always cares about man and accompanies in every vocation. Young people’s fear of deciding on the priesthood or religious orders is primarily a lack of trust in God.
These considerations highlighted several areas in which the laity should be involved:
- Liturgical-prayer area, here attention is given to the ministry performed by altar servers, lectors, extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, ceremonialists, catechists and catechists. Their action can and should be an aid to pastors. They can substitute for priests at the levels that are within a person’s competence: assisting with liturgical celebrations and events, conducting preparation for the reception of the sacraments and, above all, bearing witness to the faith.
- Administrative and economic area: parish councils, which should be a support to the priest who administers the parish, laymen can perform clerical duties, family counseling, religious instruction in school, decoration and decoration of the church, repair and construction investments, assistance in raising funds.
- Spiritual-evangelization area, i.e., making spiritual efforts towards converting ourselves, living a life of faith that should be a testimony to others, spiritual support for priests.
In order to increase the effectiveness of the Church, it is necessary:
- Involve the laity in chancery work
- Take care of the high quality of the activities undertaken in the parish
- Priests should be available constantly to the faithful and especially to the sick
- Limit the reading of letters at the Eucharist
- Take care of those in need of help
- Educate parishioners on attitudes and principles of the faith and explain the liturgy
From the synod discussions, it can be concluded that the modern world offers many opportunities for human education and talent development, but the all-round development of the young cannot take place to the exclusion of love of God and neighbor. Today there are attempts to build a world without God. People think they can be self-sufficient.
The recipe for this may be to orient people in such a way that the ethical, spiritual and religious dimensions are not lacking. The goal should be to orient people to Christ and to develop in them the ability to combine faith and knowledge. When we think of science, we usually think of a young person, but after all, it is important to remember every human being should continue to grow in faith and expand their knowledge. When the Church achieves such an educational goal, then every member of the Church will be able to consciously take responsibility for every aspect of human life.
Speaking on the aforementioned topic, they stated that it is undeniable that we are living in a time of crisis for families. Many factors are responsible for it, among others. professional work associated with long absences from home, unlimited access to the media, especially for young people.
The family is the foundation for the life of the Church, and therefore pastors should surround the family with care. The proposal is a workshop for married couples, therapeutic support, which should be the responsibility of pastors supported by the help of specialists. Educational meetings should be conducted for all married couples and take the form of meetings, workshops, talks, discussions, all based on prayer, listening to and reflecting on the Word of God. The faithful should be made aware that the family is the Domestic Church.
In the pastoral care of families, it is important for the laity to be more involved in the Church so that they feel responsible for the Church. The laity, more than priests, have access to people who are far from God and can reach the “periphery of faith” with their witness.
Measures should be taken so that those who feel excluded from the Church (divorced, living in non-sacramental relationships, in homosexual relationships) can find their place in the community of the Church.
In teaching, difficult topics related to sins must not be overlooked. Consistency is also needed in the preparation and admission to the Holy Sacraments. It is worth reminding people of the themes of finality, namely God’s judgment, heaven and hell. At the same time, simple language should be used to convey the truths of the faith so that it is clear and understandable to all.
The media should more widely implement the message of Christian values, present authorities and correct attitudes based on the teachings of the Catholic Church. It is necessary to properly use and teach the use of social communication channels: television, radio, press, Internet.
Special attention should be paid to activities on the Internet, which carries a host of risks, but can also be a tool for the Church’s work in evangelizing and catechizing. It is necessary, therefore, to create and constantly update a database of multimedia materials for promoting the values that the Church brings.
It is also worth expanding opportunities for the creation and operation of Catholic media.
Nowadays, strongly felt and acting destructively on the sphere of ethical and moral values of today’s youth is the negative behavior of adults. The cure for this is moral renewal, which is the foundation of cultural life. Modern man needs cultural role models that he can emulate and pass on to the next generation, not demoralizing attitudes.
In the face of growing relativism, it is necessary to make good choices and manifest Christian values without fear of rejection by the environment. Rooting these values in the culture can make it more easy to witness to the faith.
To see those who need help and become merciful to them, one must first appreciate the spiritual dimension of mercy. The Church should pay attention to forming communities to delve into the presence of the Merciful God in order to become merciful in His image. Then pay attention to the specific actions to be taken. Important elements are: the establishment of more and more Charity Centers and care for close cooperation with parishes, care for cooperation with Food Banks and other institutions to obtain food products for the poorest, look for the needy and excluded people in the community, be open to war refugees, pay special attention to the elderly, disabled and those in need of care.
It is necessary to teach attitudes of mercy expressed in concrete attitudes: sharing, helping at work, etc. However, help must be prudent and not naive.
It is important to remember that the vocation of the Church is to spread Mercy, because faith without Mercy is dead. Service to fellow human beings is an imitation of Christ.
1.7 Liturgy, sacraments, Eucharist – sources of faith, hope and love and foundations for building the community of the Church.
The Church’s task is not only to administer the sacraments, but also to shape people to receive them consciously. Sacraments, for they are the most important elements in the life of the Church, because from them we draw strength to develop our spiritual and daily life, sanctify ourselves and the world, and receive God’s blessing.
Formation for living the sacraments is necessary because in today’s world many “lukewarm” Catholics reduce receiving the sacraments to “passing” the next stage of life, receiving a document, a formality that has to be done and sometimes even to magic signs.
First of all, attention should be paid to preparing for the proper experience of the Eucharist. Efforts should be made to ensure that everyone participates in the most lively way possible. The Mass must not be a mere spectacle, but an encounter with the living God. It is very important that the words and signs used in the liturgy of the sacraments be understood. The liturgy should be prepared and beautiful.
This document will present a synthesis of the gathered synodal material by grouping them according to the four questions listed above.
The Archbishop Metropolitan of Warmia, as well as the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council, jointly recognized that this question is fundamental to synodal deliberations, because in order to dialogue about the Church, one must first find common ground and determine what is meant when one talks about the Church. The gathered synodal reflection on the subject can be collected in six main points. For the faithful of the Archdiocese of Warmia, the Church is:
- a community, a family, a place to which one belongs thanks to the faith of parents and grandparents;
- home, a place of prayer and recollection;
- Assistance in living a life in accordance with the commandments;
- a place where you can meet people with similar values;
- A place where one can unite with God.
The Pastoral Council, in analyzing the response of the faithful to this question, noted that many of them reduce the Church to an institution with secular characteristics to the exclusion of the supernatural, often forgetting that it is holy, that it is the way to salvation. However, it was gratifying to note that in many of the voices there was a proper, holistic view of the Church, seeing it as a salvific institution, called to lead the faithful to salvation. It was also evident in the voices of those who have drifted away from practicing their faith in the Church that for them it has become a purely human institution, detached, as it were, from God, with whom they can reconcile or make contact without the Church’s help.
Through this question they wanted to find out what place the Church has in the lives of the faithful, whether it is important to them, whether they feel they are members of the community. Many voices pointed out that the Church is an important community for people, a home, a place that allows them to be closer to God, a space where they can meet and pray with other people, receive the Holy Sacraments that strengthen faith. It was gratifying that most of the synodal votes were testimony to the relevance of the Church’s community in the daily lives of the faithful. It was noticeable that many of them could not live without the Church, that it is for them a place where they can move towards salvation together with their brothers and sisters.
However, there were also voices of people who stressed that the Church is not an important community in their lives, as it is just an institution they have left. Many of them gave reasons for leaving, which ranged from a personal crisis of faith, to being scandalized by various scandals in the Church, the indecent lives of priests, involvement in politics or disagreement with certain teachings preached by the Church.
Particular voices that require deeper pastoral reflection are those from believers who practice, but the Church is not an important community for them. There were voices in which synod participants said they felt no connection in their parish community to the priests serving there, but also to other people coming to Mass. Very often those sharing this insight saw fault in themselves, saying that they were not doing much to build community in their parish. Many, however, blamed this state of affairs on priests who, in their view, are not working to make their parish a true community. There were also testimonies from people involved in Catholic movements and associations, who said that the Church is an important community for them, but only because of the community to which they belong. They pointed out that during services for all parishioners they feel alienated, not like at meetings of their movement, where they experience true brotherhood in faith. The Pastoral Council, reflecting on these voices, drew attention to the need to create space in parishes for the activities of the laity, to increase their involvement in parish life, in the liturgy, as well as the importance of further developing Catholic movements and associations while integrating them into the parish and involving them in responsibility for its daily life.
This question, strongly related to the previous one, was intended to stimulate the faithful to reflect on what place they see for themselves in the Church or their parish and whether they feel responsible for their communities. In the responses to this question, the Pastoral Council recognized the clericalism in the view of the Church that affects both priests and laity. Many of the faithful make their presence in the Church and involvement in its life dependent on the activities of priests in the parish, shifting all responsibility for the functioning of the communities to them. There was a clear connection between the quality of the priests’ pastoral work, the quality of their sermons, their approach to people, and how the faithful find their parishes. The Pastoral Council saw this as a symptom of a larger problem related to the fact that for many of the faithful, the sphere of the sacred is limited solely to the liturgy and the activities of priests, and they fail to see the sacredness of secular life, the fact that the salvific process is not limited to the liturgical sphere. Attention was paid to the need for the formation of the faithful leading them to discover the value of their baptism, the dignity they have received from it, but also their own tasks that flow from baptism. The disruption of the natural chain of transmission of the faith, which should take place primarily in the family, which is the foundation of the Church, is recognized. It is necessary to build in parents a sense that the faith formation of their children is their own task, in which they cannot be replaced by priests or catechists, but only to be supported by them. The need for priests and laity to work together in the work of evangelization, in bearing witness, in taking responsibility for the community of the Church was recognized. It called for increasing the role of the laity in ecclesiastical decision-making processes by including them in existing diocesan or parish structures and strengthening their advisory voice. The need to increase the responsibility of parish economic and pastoral councils in parish life was emphasized. The lay faithful want to be active collaborators with priests in the work of building parish communities. This includes the financial sphere of the parish. Many of the faithful called for greater transparency in this regard, pointing out that by not knowing where and for what their offerings are used, it is hard for them to identify with the parish and feel responsible for it. Many have also called for greater influence of the lay faithful in making decisions about parish investments.
They also noted the lack of formation continuity in the Church, the lack of permanent, lifelong formation, not limited solely to various pastoral actions. The need to strengthen the role of ministries given to the laity in the Church was recognized. Faced with a crisis in priestly vocations, and the need to merge parishes, the Pastoral Council found it necessary to form lay lectors, acolytes or catechists toward taking responsibility for their communities, especially where the presence of a priest is not daily.
Attention was also drawn to the need for priests and laity to work together in the work of evangelization, in the proclamation of the kerygma, in reaching out to the non-practicing, but also in forming those who regularly go to church. They stressed the importance of strengthening and forming Catholic consciousness, awakening reflection on what it means to be Catholic and what this is expressed in daily life. It emphasized the need to build a Catholic identity based on a living faith in Jesus Christ, on obedience and commitment to the life of the Church and on witnessing in daily life, in workplaces, schools, family, social groups. They recognized the opportunity that the Internet represents for evangelization, and called for an increased presence of priests and lay people.
A great many voices of the faithful were concerned with the need to take care of the liturgy. They pointed out the need to prepare services well, teach singing, and take care of church music. At the same time, many people spoke of their lack of understanding of the liturgy, of not feeling well prepared to experience it. They requested liturgical catechesis, explaining gestures, symbols, signs, but above all the purpose and meaning of the liturgy. Many have advocated preaching homilies at every Mass, including on weekdays.
An important place in the synodal reflection of many people was given to the issue of Caritas – the Church’s charitable activities. The faithful see it as an essential and inseparable part of the life of the Church, as well as a place where God’s merciful face is shown and his goodness is experienced. Many call for greater involvement of the Church in helping those most in need, but at the same time appreciate the work of diocesan Caritas, parishes and other Church institutions, if only in helping refugees from Ukraine. Many believers stressed that Caritas’ activities are an important indicator of the Church’s credibility.
The last question was about specific solutions and ideas for the Church that the faithful would like to implement in their lives, or that they think the Church should guard against. The responses to this question were most varied and revealed the wide range of views and attitudes held by the faithful of our Archdiocese. There were often demands that contradicted each other. According to some, at least, the Church is too involved in current politics; according to others, it speaks too little on current issues. Some believe that the Church lacks a place and special pastoral care for divorced people living in remarriages, or for LGBT people. Others believe that the Church indulges these groups of people too much. The Pastoral Council read this as a call for intra-church dialogue, but at the same time as a further impetus to strengthen cooperation between clergy and laity in the Church’s formation and evangelization activities.
In many voices of the faithful, there was resentment against the Church and priests for not wanting or being able to listen to the laity, for being present in the parish only at Mass and in the chancery, for rejecting their initiatives in advance, for being too harsh in their sermons, addressing more to people who are not present at the liturgy, instead of helping those who participate in it. They pointed out the need to reach out to young people, to listen to them. They pointed to the lack of pastoral offerings for particular groups of the faithful, such as men, intellectuals or even divorced people. Many have pointed out the lack of consistency in the application of church law among parishes. If only in the fact that in some it is allowed to be a godfather to anyone willing to be a godfather, while in others it follows the canonical requirements.
The desire for the parish to be a community of communities, where everyone could find their place, was evident in the statements of many. Many of the faithful wrote about developing Catholic movements and associations, but also viewed the parish more broadly, not only as a community that fulfills religious purposes, but also as a place where social and cultural life can be carried out.
Many voices were raised about the position of women in the Church. The faithful called for increasing their presence in the Church’s governing bodies, admittance to ministries, to be extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, but also to be actively present if only in seminary formation.
What was mentioned earlier was repeatedly emphasized, namely the necessity for each believer to read and fulfill his own tasks in the Church, which flow from the reception of Holy Baptism. The need for a fair and responsible presence of lay Catholics in public and political life has been recognized. They stressed the need to bear witness in daily life, including by zealously and helpfully fulfilling one’s professional duties. It also called for developing pastoral care for families and supporting them in passing on the faith to their children.
1.1.1 Parish communities
The vast majority of all those who filled out the surveys believe that a parish or community is a place to develop their faith. For members of communities such a place is, of course, the community much more than the parish while for most of those completing the survey individually it is the parish that is the place of faith development. To the least extent, this is what anonymous people think.
A parish is mainly Mass, celebrations and liturgical rites (sacraments), as well as a place for prayer, recollection, opportunities for adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, and a meeting place for religious groups. The community, for its members, is first and foremost a place for formation and spiritual development.
Among the elements that hinder parishes from being truly places of faith, respondents cited: closed church buildings on weekdays; lack of fixed opening hours for the chancellery (some parishes); low parish activity in the form of a small number of conferences, meetings and other activities; weak, boring and schematic sermons; poor relations with priests (especially with the pastor); and taking up political topics in the Church. Individuals are bothered mainly by the priest’s attitude (most often autocratic or rude) and the lack of Mass celebrated in the Tridentine rite (many people in individual surveys pointed out the unfair treatment of the Tridentine liturgy after the introduction of Pope Francis’ Tradicionis Custodes guidelines in our diocese).
Somé people admitted that they go to masses and services at other parishes, where they feel̨ better (it’s mostly about the sermons), while some rarely go to the Church because of what they believe are mistakes made by the Church – bishops and priests don’t want to cleanse the Church of the sins of pedophiles.
In general, parishes and communities are places for faith development, hindrances are there, but it is not that they prevent faith formation and development. The surveys show that anyone who just wants to form and deepen their faith in a parish or community has the opportunity to do so in our diocese.
The key to understanding almost all the responses that were included in the surveys is the attitude toward the parish priest or priests and the nature of the relationship with them. If the priest is a disliked, antipathetic person then everything is judged in the key of this dislike. The church and the parish are judged badly from this perspective – pastoral activities, dialogue, conflict resolution, the quality of homilies, the attitude of priests. Similarly, in the other direction, if the priest is liked, very many things in the parish are evaluated positively. Surveys have found that the priest is the prism through which the faithful make assessments of their parishes. It also shows that if priests in a parish (and especially the parish priest), allow the faithful to have their say, listen to them, give them attention and time, ask for their opinion, allow them to co-determine the parish, exemplify the content of homilies and catechesis, do not treat parishioners in advance on the basis of “I know everything best,” they will be perceived positively, thus the Church’s evaluation changes. Such a relationship is found in the vast majority of community and individual surveys. The surveys describe situations in which the priest is not very open, has no time for the faithful, but is accepted because people know that the parish is large and there are few priests. They don’t blame the priest for not being physically able to devote time to every community and everyone who wants to. On the other hand, in the surveys it came out that the faithful do not demand democracy in parishes, they realize that it is the pastor who has to make various decisions, is responsible for the parish, and in case of disputes has to settle and decide.
There are practically no surveys that rate a priest well and a parish’s activities poorly. The priest’s attitude projects an image of the parish and the Church in general. The priest in the statements of diocesans was considered good when:
- Has time for parishioners,
- Is kind, not abrasive,
- He speaks good, engaged and thoughtful sermons (he doesn’t read sermons off the page),
- does not get involved in politics, does not suggest who to vote for,
- doesn’t think it knows everything best,
- takes care not only of the external image of the parish (construction, cleanliness of buildings, practicality), but also of the spiritual matters of parishioners.
Criticism of priests mainly concerns:
- The priest does not want to talk to the faithful, and if he does talk, he knows everything better,
- is abrasive,
- does not speak interesting, good sermons, does not apply himself to preaching,
- He says moralizing sermons, not up to date,
- doesn’t talk to the faithful because he doesn’t have time,
- cares more about the profane sphere (the external) than the sacrum (spirituality, formation, liturgy),
- places too much importance on hierarchy (considers himself superior, from another caste, from another format),
- His words, attitude, way of life, views are detached from the lives and affairs of ordinary people.
There are also voices in the surveys that the Church should account for pedophile scandals and be more open to homosexuals (mostly young people write about this), but there are also many opinions in the surveys that openly criticize the Church’s dialogue with the world, too open to new ideological currents.
The opinions presented in the surveys show that the faithful need priests who are committed and with authority, but which is built not on the priest’s sense of superiority or otherness, but on direct interaction with the faithful and good transmission of the content of the faith (catechesis, sermons, formation). Another issue that came up in the surveys is the evaluation of the pastor after the changes in the parish. Often those who had a good relationship with the previous pastor view the new one negatively, while thosé who did not have a good relationship with the previous one see the relationship with the new one as an opportunity to take a more prominent place in the parish. What can be seen here is a peculiar struggle among some of the faithful for position in the parish and relations with the pastor.
Responses in surveys that formulate definitions of the Church include a wide range of different content. Most often, the faithful emphasize that the Church is:
- Jesus Christ,
- Priests and hierarchs of the Church,
- all believers,
- community members,
- All sharing similar values,
- all baptized,
- me, us.
Such a broad understanding of the term Church applies to all the groups that took part in the survey.
In this section, those filling out the questionnaire mainly mention bishops and priests, followed by communities and all parishioners. One gets the impression that priests have decisive tasks and important opinions in every matter concerning the parish, hence they also have the greatest responsibility. Pastoral and parish councils are also mentioned in surveys as co-responsible, but this is not the prevailing opinion. In general, the faithful considered the clergy to be responsible for the community of the Church – this was formulated in almost every survey.
Most of those completing the survey believe that those who do not want to be in the Church, non-believers, enemies of the Church, dissenters, remain on the margins of the Church. There are also (though less frequent) responses that homeless people, alcoholics, couples living in unmarried, non-sacramental relationships, doubters remain on the margins of the Church. Young people often cited people from the LGBT community as marginalized, while older people described young people, emphasizing that up to the sacrament of Confirmation they are still somehow connected to the Church, while after Confirmation it is much worse, and they become the margin of the community.
When asked a survey question about the goal, virtually all wrote that they understood their own salvation (going to heaven) as the goal. The concept of purpose here is not understood as parish or community activities, various initiatives, works or joint ventures. Rather, these are means to an end, which is why priests, parishes and communities (the Church) are supposed to bring about the proper goal of each believer – ultimately his own salvation, individual rather than communally understood. The individual definition of salvation as the goal also determines the attitude in which the faithful exist in the Church – it is individual in nature, community is only a means to that end.
This point was highlighted in our diocesan analysis because of its importance. This is because it is clear in the responses that the faithful do not want to link the Church with politics, in principle at any stage. They believe this harms both the Church and politicians. However, the cooperation of the Church and priests with state institutions such as the Fire Department, Sanepid, and the Police is viewed positively. This type of cooperation is considered important and necessary. There have also been claims that state or local authorities or some institutions of power do not respond to signals and warnings from priests about reprehensible behavior – a priest reported a problem of drug abuse among young people, and municipal authorities ignored the warnings.
There have been many allegations in the surveys about the connection between the Church in Poland and the ruling party. This is viewed very critically. Post about. Rydzyk appears in several surveys in a negative context, while Radio Maryja is very often evaluated positively. As part of the response about cooperation with the media, this radio was mentioned frequently in the surveys.
A significant number of individual surveys (about 10%) were completed by the faithful of our diocese attached to the environment of tradition. In the vast majority of the questionnaires, these faithful expressed regret that they could not carry out the liturgy in the Tridentine rite as they wished, and thus properly live out their faith. They feel despised, marginalized, even pushed out of the Church. They don’t understand why they were very quickly deprived by Pope Francis and the diocesan bishops of the opportunity to freely follow the Tridentine liturgy, because they want to experience the Mass like the faithful many generations before them (Tridentine rite and Latin language) and now they are forced to attend Mass. and services after the liturgy reform. Many see these decisions by the Pope as an aversion to the environment of tradition, and some even write of a conspiracy or betrayal of the Church, which will lead Catholicism to crisis and the pursuit of leftist or communist ideals rather than evangelical ones. These surveys show very strong emotions – grief, anger, bitterness, sadness, aggression and pretentiousness. The comments present in these surveys concern, as noted above, liturgy, Church community, dialogue, synodality, forms of Holy Communion, ministries in the Church. The current crisis of the Catholic Church, customs and faith is, in the perspective of these statements, caused by the decisions of the Second Vatican Council, the reform of the liturgy, the move away from Latin towards national languages, the celebration of Mass. forward to the faithful, dialogue and ecumenicality – all of which have become an inappropriate way for the Church to fit in with the world at the expense of the truths of faith and tradition. Many in the tradition community filling out the survey consider this to be a mistake. A strong criticism of synodality is present in the responses (despite the fact that these faithful participated in the synodal process of our diocese in quite large numbers), for the shepherd does not ask the sheep where to go, he knows, he leads the sheep, and they listen to him.
Analysis of the surveys of this milieu shows a lot of negativity, paradoxically noticeable (despite assurances of obedience) is strong criticism of Pope Francis and the hierarchy (“The Synod is a political narrative of the Holy See, and the Curia and the Vatican are pursuing an electoral agenda”, “The Curia considers itself omniscient”). There is a clear consolidation of this environment in our diocese, and thus alienation from parishes and affiliation with traditions. There is an apparent disturbed ecclesiality, ignorance of basic truths of Church history (synods, Councils, discernment in communities, the Benedictine principle quod omnes similiter tangit, ab omnibus comprobetur: what concerns all by all should be agreed upon), present is a negation of liturgical ministries and tasks in the Church, selective use of the authority of Pope Benedict XVI and Bl. Cardinal. St. Wyszynski. What shines through is the vision of a clerical Church, strongly hierarchical, closed, even a besieged fortress that must defend itself against the attacks of enemies, the role of the laity is passive, liturgical services belong exclusively to priests, possibly to some men.
An important element of the surveys is the voice of young people. Unfortunately, individual questionnaires were completed by only 5% of young people between the ages of 20 and 29. The responses show that young people today need a different way of treating and teaching the faith than young people in past decades. Today’s youth are bored with classical teaching, their attention is focused on social media and they absorb the worldview messages present there. They find the virtual world more attractive and interesting than classic forms of content delivery. The responses also show that the young are looking for and need an ideological foundation, a background, a base through which they can interpret the situations that happen to them in life. However, the weakness of classical forms of teaching of faith and morals means that their worldview is not formed on the basis of the content of faith, but by virtue of competing messages that contradict Church teaching and are more attractive in form. What the young experience and absorb through the Internet, social media and the digital world is easy, fast, interesting in form and not prohibitive, hence faith, morality and Church doctrine appear as content that requires effort and toil. The young also live by media stereotypes (this can be seen in the content of surveys), which they uncritically accept – a believer is someone inferior, not fitting into the world, old-fashioned, unattractive. This kind of media opinion intimidates the young and alienates the faith, as they do not want to be apart from a group of attractive peers, created to be modern and fun. Surveys show that young people need to be motivated to live their faith, to inspire in them the courage to bear witness to their faith.
In the surveys, mostly young people (under 23) stressed that LGBTQ+ people and those who support abortion are excluded from the Church. They don’t understand the Church’s opposition to homosexual practices and women’s choices to terminate pregnancies. The survey opinions of young people clearly show the influence of mass culture on their perception of the world, they are disturbed by racism, they are imbued with the slogans of tolerance understood as the free acceptance of otherness, and the realization of the mission is hindered by a lack of tolerance for the views of others. They believe that there is gender racism in the Church – a male priest rules and does not allow others to speak (the rule is that if someone thinks differently from the priest then he is wrong).
In many places in all the surveys, the problem of young people, or more precisely, their absence from the Church, came up. Many point out that this is one of the main problems of the Church today: few young people give to the Church and few go to Church at all. Also, relatively few young people participated in the surveys. However, the problem of the young is not only a problem of this generation, but a problem of religious upbringing or lack thereof in the family. Ultimately, it is the family that should play the role of teaching and transmitting the faith, because it is there, in the first stages of his life, that a young person grows up to believe. However, modern parents are not up to the task. On the one hand, they are burdened by work, they feel tired, they do not have time for their children, on the other hand, it is difficult for them to compete with social media, cultural influence, worldview changes that are taking place in civilization. It is not insignificant that many parents have abandoned the practice of faith and in this sphere are no authorities for their children.
Analyzing the views of the faithful by the age of those who took the survey, it can be said that older people, precisely because of their age, do not get too involved in the activities of communities and parishes, they leave this space to younger people – they devote themselves more to prayer than to action. The most active age bracket in completing the surveys is between 30 and 45 years old. This group is creative, wants to act and have an impact on the reality of the Church – communities and parishes. These people are the most concerned, but also the most critical, most often complaining about the lack of cooperation with the clergy, their laziness, lack of preparation and commitment. In the survey, the most active communities were those made up of young married couples – members of the House Church community – but the Scouts and Scouts of Europe communities were also noteworthy. Their statements were wise, mature, showing the care and commitment of young people sacrificing for the elderly and those in need. What emerges is a picture of valuable and active youth.
In the age analysis of the questionnaires, one could see a kind of generational conflict – the young cannot “get along” with the old. The young feel they are treated as inexperienced, ignorant of life, who should not speak up, while the elderly are treated as people to whom nothing can be said, nothing can be pointed out or their actions criticized. This type of conflict arouses aggression.
Surveys show that the level of religious awareness of religious orders is much higher than that of other communities. Religious see the poor and sick as excluded from the church community, but it is not a matter of material issues, but of “spiritual exclusion,” which calls for accompaniment and spiritual assistance. People from congregations believe that church communities are the best place to express themselves. Also, religious orders, unlike other communities, are more likely to experience such ecclesiastical holidays as indulgences.
A separate topic of the surveys is the evaluation of nuns working in parishes. Wherever they are, they are highly praised for their dedication, devotion, commitment and the help they show. Surveys show high praise for their service in the Church, as well as regret and resentment toward pastors and priests for sometimes treating nuns like servants. There is much appreciation in the surveys for the activities of Caritas circles and communities, for their involvement and work for the needy.
On the other hand, seminarians filling out the questionnaire indicated that they do not have the opportunity to speak out, and any attempt to change anything in the Seminary is considered a disruption of unity. Seminarians do not feel heard and do not speak up for fear of being judged.
The surveys indicated that the most frequent contacts were either with Catholic editors such as Radio Maryja, Trwam TV, Radio Warsaw, the weekly Idziemy or even Radio Wnet. They also marked their own activity in the form of Facebook or YouTube accounts. However, most surveys show that many parishes have no media coverage, and there are even comments that communities or parishes are not a place for media publicity. Of course, there is also the present realization that communities and parishes need media support (tools and ways of working) through which they could go beyond their environment and become more recognized and active – a local radio station, their own magazine, the development of social media or the broadcasting of Mass. via the Internet. The faithful believe that broadcasting the Mass could make it raise the quality of parish homilies. Small parishes, on the other hand, have no contact with the media.
General note: The synodal questions proposed by the Vademecum are incomprehensible, difficult. According to the opinion of some synod participants, this is a testament to how far Church managers have strayed from the faithful. Some people do not feel that they have any influence on decision-making at a higher level of the Church.
Some have noticed that many priests know nothing about the synod and don’t seem particularly interested in it. They are mentally distant from the subject and call synodality “Francis’ mess.”
The perceived dangers of placing the Church in the hands of the laity, democratizing it and changing doctrine according to the dictates of the majority and even the minority, were noted by many. They even ask whether the Synod is meant to be a “stampede” for the introduction of liberal ideas.
Skepticism about the idea of a synod manifested itself in outrage at the synod logo, in which a shepherd walks among the people. “The shepherd cannot go along with the flock, he is to lead it.” “There is a hierarchical structure in the Church and it should remain that way.”
In the statements of young people involved in the life of the Church, their concern for the community of believers is evident. However, most carry the image of the Church created by the liberal media and repeat the opinions heard there. Some do not even distinguish between the church as a community and the church of the building. The question is whether it is only their “fault.”
The synod provides an opportunity to hear the voice of those who until now have spoken little, or in other words that their voice is not heard.
List of synodal topics
W Kościele i w społeczeństwie jesteśmy na tej samej drodze, ramię w ramię.
Kiedy mówimy „nasz Kościół”, to kogo mamy na myśli? Kto w naszym Kościele „podąża razem”? Kto oczekuje, aby bardziej ku niemu wyjść i zaprosić go do wspólnej drogi wiary? Jakie osoby lub grupy są zaniedbane i nie objęte troską o to, by iść razem drogą wiary i stanowić jedną wspólnotę Kościoła?
Zestawienie odpowiedzi na te pytania zawarte w syntezach diecezjalnych.
Słuchanie jest pierwszym krokiem, ale wymaga otwartego umysłu i serca, bez uprzedzeń.
Czy umiemy słuchać siebie nawzajem w naszym Kościele? Czyj głos jest pomijany lub za mało słyszany? Z jakiego powodu? Czy potrafimy określić uprzedzenia i stereotypy, które utrudniają nam słuchanie innych? Czy z otwartym umysłem i sercem umiemy wsłuchiwać się w poglądy inne niż nasze; także osób spoza wspólnoty Kościoła?
Wszyscy są zaproszeni do mówienia z odwagą i zaufaniem, to znaczy łącząc wolność, prawdę i miłość.
Czy w Kościele nasz/mój głos ma znaczenie i czy znajdujemy przestrzeń do wypowiedzi i bycia wysłuchanym? Czy czujemy, że przemawiający w naszym imieniu faktycznie reprezentują także nas? Jaki mamy na to realny wpływ?
„Wspólna droga” jest możliwa tylko wtedy, gdy opiera się na wspólnotowym słuchaniu Słowa Bożego i sprawowaniu Eucharystii.
Czy liturgiczne celebracje i doświadczenie wspólnotowej modlitwy w naszym Kościele mają realny wpływ na moją/naszą praktykę codziennego życia: decyzje, wybory, inspiracje? Czy czujemy się zaproszeni do czynnego (praktycznego) zaangażowania w liturgię, czy też pozostawia nam się rolę „widza”? Czy sami pielęgnujemy w sobie pragnienie zaangażowania? Czy przeżywanie liturgii umacnia i motywuje mnie/nas do podjęcia misji ewangelizacji?
Synodalność służy misji Kościoła, do udziału w której powołani są wszyscy jego członkowie.
Czy mamy świadomość, że jako ochrzczeni wszyscy jesteśmy powołani do misji ewangelizowania? Co nas hamuje w podejmowaniu tej misji i wspieraniu w niej innych: w nas samych, w środowisku życia, we współczesnej kulturze?
Dialog wymaga wytrwałości i cierpliwości, ale umożliwia także wzajemne zrozumienie.
W jaki sposób w naszym Kościele rozwiązywane są konflikty i trudności wynikające z różnicy poglądów, dążeń, oczekiwań? Czy dialog jest naszym sposobem wychodzenia z tych problemów? Jak w tym kontekście wygląda współpraca różnych instytucji, organizacji i ruchów kościelnych? Czy umiemy uczyć się form dialogu od instytucji niekościelnych? Czy dialog jest również przestrzenią naszego spotkania z wyznawcami innych religii i zniewierzącymi?
Dialog między chrześcijanami różnych wyznań, zjednoczonymi przez jeden chrzest,
zajmuje szczególne miejsce na drodze synodalnej.
Jakie relacje ma nasza wspólnota kościelna z członkami innych tradycji chrześcijańskich i wyznań? Co nas łączy i jak razem podążamy? Jakie owoce przyniosło nam wspólne podążanie? Jakie są trudności? Jak możemy zrobić następny krok we wspólnym podążaniu naprzód?
Kościół synodalny jest Kościołem uczestniczącym i współodpowiedzialnym.
Kto w naszym Kościele podejmuje decyzje i czego one dotyczą? Czy jest to wyłącznie forma indywidualnego przewodniczenia czy jest też w tym wymiar wspólnotowy? Czy istnieje współpraca zespołowa i czy w tym kontekście promowane jest zaangażowanie świeckich, np. w radach duszpasterskich i ekonomicznych, w kierowaniu wspólnotami? Czy jesteśmy gotowi podjąć się współodpowiedzialności za podejmowane decyzje i działania?
Na drodze synodalnej podejmujemy decyzje poprzez rozeznawanie tego, co Duch Święty mówi przez całą naszą wspólnotę.
Jak rozumiemy to, że Kościół jest hierarchiczny a nie demokratyczny? Czy w tak zorganizowanym Kościele widzimy miejsce dla wspólnego rozeznawania i podejmowania decyzji całego ludu Bożego wraz z pasterzami? Jak możemy wzrastać we wspólnotowym rozeznawaniu duchowym?
Synodalność pociąga za sobą otwartość na zmiany, formację i ciągłe uczenie się.
Jak formowane są osoby, zwłaszcza te, które pełnią odpowiedzialne funkcje we wspólnocie chrześcijańskiej, aby były bardziej zdolne do słuchania i dialogu, rozeznawania? Czy mamy świadomość odpowiedzialności za własną nieustanną formację do odpowiedzialności i misji ewangelizacyjnej w Kościele?