The Catholic Church in Poland will focus on reaching out to young people in 2022, according to a senior official.
Bishop Artur Miziński, secretary general of the Polish bishops’ conference, said that there was an “urgent need” to improve communication between the Church and the younger generation.
“This is a challenge for the entire universal Church,” he said.
“There is an urgent need to seek and introduce new ways of reaching young people with the message of the Gospel. Catholic communities and movements, operating in the vast majority of the Polish parishes, serve this aim.”
“We will try to use new communication technologies to be close to the daily life and affairs of young people.”
Miziński, an auxiliary bishop of Lublin archdiocese in eastern Poland, was speaking amid growing concern among Church leaders about secularization in the central European country.
The Church announced in October that nearly 20% fewer candidates for the Catholic priesthood enrolled in Poland’s seminaries in 2021, compared to the year before.
But 91.9% of Poland’s almost 38 million population continue to describe themselves as members of the Church, with 36.9% of Catholics regularly attending Mass.
Miziński said that the “formation and pastoral care of young people” was one of the Church’s three top priorities for the new year, alongside helping those in need and “responding to Pope Francis’ call to go on the synodal path in the dioceses.”
A second, continental phase will take place from September 2022 to March 2023, ahead of the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops at the Vatican in October 2023.
“The synodal consultations are underway in Polish dioceses and will continue into the new year, until mid-May,” the bishop said.
“In response to Pope Francis’ call, we want to search for answers and ways to accomplish the tasks related to these questions.”
“Parishes, representatives of movements and communities, and lay people are taking part in this process. This is our commitment to the Synod of Bishops proclaimed by the Holy Father.”
Reviewing 2021, Miziński said that highlights for the Polish Church included the joint beatification of Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński and Mother Elżbieta Róża Czacka on Sept. 12, and the beatification of Fr. Jan Macha on Nov. 20.
“We thank Pope Francis for these new blesseds,” he said. “The beatification ceremonies that took place in September in Warsaw and in November in Katowice were an opportunity to recall and promote, especially among young people, the testimony of their lives.”
He also noted that in 2021 the Polish bishops made their “ad limina” visits to Rome, meeting with Pope Francis and heads of Vatican departments.
He added that Catholic life continued to be affected by COVID-19. Poland has recorded more than four million coronavirus cases and over 97,000 related deaths.
“The pandemic will also be a challenge in the new year. It is important to create conditions for safe participation in Mass, in the spiritual formation of small groups, and in community life,” Miziński commented.
“The observance of sanitary rules is an expression of mutual concern and the evangelical love of neighbor.”
The bishop underlined that the Polish Church would continue to support people in need.
He noted that in December, Archbishop Stanislaw Gądecki issued a statement on behalf of the Polish bishops’ permanent council welcoming Pope Francis’ appeal to European countries to enable Catholic communities to support migrants.
“We are ready to help, in accordance with the existing legal possibilities and with the applicable state migration regulations, all those who express their will to come and settle in our country,” the archbishop said.
Miziński said that the Church in Poland was ready to help all newcomers to Poland, in accordance with current government regulations on migration.