The Catholic hold on Poland has always seemed invincible. When polled, 97 percent of Poles self identify as Catholic.
In an election this past October 9, however, something unexpected happened. Ten percent of the voters voted for an anticlerical party. This gave the new party ten percent of the parliament seats.
This ten percent, while seemingly small, has been very troublesome because it gives official standing and a public voice against the clergy. The new party seeks to end tax exemptions for priests, religion classes and crosses in public schools and state subsidies for churches. It also favors legalization of same sex marriages.
The Church’s reaction has been predictable. One rogue Priest made conciliatory remarks about the new party. He was quickly silenced.
As is happening around the world, young people are increasingly disinterested in the established Church and are seeking other views. It is reported that in Poland, the established political parties have been reluctant to address ending these church subsidies and challenge to conservative values the Church preaches.
From what I read, the cozy arrangement between Church and the Polish government just is not discussed publically. It’s safe to say that throughout history, nothing but bad ends have come about from alliances between church and politics.
While I can’t say this is universal, it appears to me the Christian faith in the Western world is tired and tends to represent an older demographic. The youthful energy seems to be with secularism and nonorthodox religion.
All of the changes taking place in attitudes toward religion makes me think 2012 will be an exciting year.