Statement to the members, auditors and observers of the 2018 Synod of Bishops on Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment

    Over the past two years, we have been involved in an international research project to study and engage best practices in student and young adult apostolates.[1] We have collected good practices and models of small faith communities[2] of, for, and by Catholic university students from over a dozen countries. Some of these are highlighted in a book, God’s Quad: Small Faith Communities on Campus and Beyond (Orbis Books, 2018). Along with the book, we have held “listening sessions,” most recently in Nairobi, New York, and Rome. Our goal is to engage more voices of young people in the process of the Synod. From these events and our research, six key messages surface.

As global communities representing tens of thousands of Catholic students, intellectuals, and professionals, IMCS and ICMICA* wish to express our support for Pope Francis and his efforts to address the global crisis of sexual abuse and to bring about much needed reforms of ecclesial structures.

As Catholic movements, we lament the suffering experienced by far too many children, women, and men at the hands of some priests, religious, and lay leaders. Their suffering cries out to God from the depths of pain and injustice (Psalm 130). 

As lay movements, we deplore the clericalism and cover-ups by church leaders, which place image, reputation, and clerical status over the suffering of children.

Christianity is dying before everyone in Poland. The reason for this is not the propaganda of freethinkers or the activities of freemason lodges and international conspiracies. We ourselves are eradicating Christianity, we, clergymen, the most zealous members of the Church, at our own request and with our own hands. Fewer and fewer people identify with the Church. The Statistical Institute of the Catholic Church recently recorded the largest decline in practicing Catholics in years. In 2016, the figure fell by more than 3 percent compared to 2015 to 36.7 percent - the lowest figure in Poland's post-war history.

My remarks about the present condition and role of the Catholic Church in Poland are not based on the formal sociological research, for I am not a sociologist. I would like just to share some observations and concerns which I live through as Christian and priest. My report is mostly based on the personal experience, but in spite of the subjective prospective I seek to objectivize my views as much as possible by taking into account a broader context.

1. Looking Through the Prism of Statistics

First let us ask what the statistics say about the Catholic Church in Poland. In the context of the Western countries of Europe the Catholic Church in my country manifests to be quite strong institution and living community of believers. Over 30 % of the entire population of Poland are “dominicantes” and this means that they participate in Mass every Sunday. One needs to add that in the South of Poland the percentage of “dominicantes” is higher and in some places it reaches 40%. Though the number of dominicantes and comunicantes keeps being exceptionally high, there is a remarkable tendency of downfall. In the recent year 2017 the fall reached 3, 2 % and it should be already alarming.

Old wine in old wineskins

1- "We are not living in an era of change but experiencing the change of an era", thus Pope Francis to the Italian bishops. A deep reaching change is taking place. This we have to master. For this, small reforms are not enough. Courage is required. He, the Pope, has this. Within five years he has changed the Roman Catholic Church. Structures are being renewed. A decentralisation is under way. The Pope is convinced that the Holy Spirit is not at work onlv in Rome. In his inaugural speech "Evangelii Gaudium" he quoted regional bishop-conferences 40 times. When the four "dubia cardinals" waited for an answer to their letter about "Amoris Laetitia", he adapted a pastoral letter of the Argentine bishops and raised this to the rank of a genuine teaching. He gave this local letter the authority of a "magisterium authenticum".

Right to dissent and the obligation of obedience

                In a secular society – in which we have been living in the most part of Europe for at least two hundred years – it can be found as obvious that there is no consensus in several instances and that one citizen’s opinion may differ from that of another one or from the position of a supreme power or body.  It is an everyday experience to meet conflicting views.  However, once a pious citizen crosses the threshold of a church, he or she might think that the possibility and the right to be dissented have ceased in the altar.

Another Church possible in the global era and plural era. (Javier Elzo)

     His new book is based on an accurate reflection "You cannot live faith today as lived and understood by our previous generations of Christians during the long centuries of the era of Christianity, in whose rales we are." Although it may seem a pessimistic observation, Elzo understands it as an opportunity.

We must think and construct Church reform culturally, but above all begin to experiment. Our local realities feel very challenged, both on the theological and pastoral front, to respond to the pressing request of Pope Francis to rethink the forms of the Church and above all to look for new paths for the Christian proclamation. The reform is very necessary today, because it is fundamental to re-establish dialogue with a radically different world from the past, and it is a necessity to renew not only the languages ​​but also the structures and ministries of our Church. Meic will go on this path trying to stimulate and involve other associative realities, because only together it is possible to build contents and experiences that foster authentic ecclesial renewal.