Communiqué from the 398th Plenary Assembly
of the Polish Bishops’ Conference

The 398th Plenary Assembly of the Polish Bishops’ Conference was held in Warsaw from 10 to 12 June 2024 under the chairmanship of Archbishop Tadeusz Wojda SAC, President of the Polish Bishops’ Conference.

  1. The main topic of the meeting was the challenges of catechesis in parishes and religious education in schools. With regard to the first issue, the bishops stressed the need to renew catechesis in its catechumenal dimension. The catechumenate is a model for the catechesis of the Church and a call to proclaim the kerygma, deepen the professed faith and experience the community of the Church. Catechumenal formation is necessary prior to participation in First Confession and Holy Communion, Confirmation or the Sacrament of Marriage, as well as during the time when parents are preparing for the Baptism of their children. Permanent catechesis of adults is also needed. This means that there is also a need for appropriate formation of catechists and animators. The call to deepen parish catechesis does not mean abandoning religious education at school. These are two complementary realities. Due to dynamic social changes, religious lessons in schools should be given a stronger cultural, educational, social and historical dimension. The Bishops consider the current actions taken by the Ministry of National Education introducing changes in the organisation of religion education at school as unjust and unfair, and remind that all changes in this area should be made through dialogue, in agreement with Churches and religious associations. They thank religion teachers for their difficult and responsible didactic and educational work, and share their concerns about the changes announced by the Ministry, which are not in line with European standards. The bishops share the firm voices of parents who have the right to bring up their own children in public school in accordance with their convictions, including their religious beliefs.
  2. In view of the growing pressure in the public space and in the actions of the government to change the legal protection of human life towards the legalisation of the killing of children in the womb, the bishops recall the unequivocal and unchanging position of the Church on this issue. Consent or even acquiescence to any form of deliberate annihilation of human life, including that of a child not yet born, is incompatible with natural law and the Catholic faith. The Bishops also point out that the commandment „Thou shalt not kill” is a fundamental human principle which should guide every person of right conscience. They therefore strongly appeal to the consciences not only of believers, but of all people of good will, to firmly oppose attempts to legalise abortion and to act decisively to promote the protection of life. Human life is a supreme value. Therefore, no one, in the name of personal freedom, has the right to decide on the life of another human being. Nor must doctors, medical personnel and pharmacists be forced to engage in the killing of children in the prenatal period, or of the elderly and sick, thus violating their right to retain their conscience clause. The bishops express great respect and appreciation for mothers and fathers who lovingly serve life and protect their children even in the most difficult situations. They testify to the fact that the joy, beauty and greatness of maternal and paternal love are expressed in an unwavering concern for the well-being of children regardless of circumstances. The Church undertakes all possible help and support and implements concrete actions to protect all children from any form of violence.
  3. In discussing the issue of the family, the bishops drew attention to the importance of an extended and in-depth preparation of young people for the sacrament of marriage. Steps will be taken to develop a programme of formation for the catechumenate, in which both discernment and preparation for the sacrament of marriage will take place, as well as accompanying married couples in the first years of their life together. In this context, the ongoing peregrination in the dioceses of Poland of the relics of Blessed Józef and Wiktoria Ulma, together with their seven children, is a unique opportunity to pray together for the families and those preparing for marriage.
  4. Archbishop Wojciech Polak, the Delegate of the Polish Bishops’ Conference for the Protection of Children and Youth, has announced that work is nearing completion in preparation for the appointment of a commission of independent experts to investigate the phenomenon of sexual abuse in the Church in Poland. Final and binding decisions will be made at the autumn plenary meetings of both the Polish Bishops’ Conference and the conferences of the major superiors of male and female religious orders, who are also participating in this work. The establishment and operation of the commission will express the solidarity of all ecclesiastical superiors, taking joint action to protect minors and help the wounded, listening also to the voice of the wounded themselves.

The Bishops express their gratitude to all those involved in the development and training in preparation for the implementation of the standards for the protection of minors in the Church. By implementing these standards, which are obliged by the so-called Kamilek Act, the Church is joining society’s efforts to create environments that are safe and free from all forms of violence.

  1. During the meeting, the bishops made a pilgrimage to the Diocesan Sanctuary of Blessed Father Jerzy Popiełuszko in Warsaw’s Żoliborz district, where they celebrated the Eucharist. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the martyrdom of the chaplain of “Solidarność”. Dedicating to the intercession of Blessed Fr Popiełuszko the difficult matters of Poland and Poles, the bishops prayed at his tomb for peace in the world, national harmony and respect for human life.
  2. The Plenary Assembly elected Bishop Marek Marczak, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Lodz, as Secretary General of the Polish Bishops’ Conference for a five-year term. He succeeded Bishop Artur G. Miziński in this position, which he held for 10 years. Together with the President of the Polish Bishops’ Conference and his deputy, they constitute the Presidium of the Polish Episcopate. The main tasks of the Secretary General include the management of the Secretariat of the Polish Episcopate, which is an organ supporting the Polish Bishops’ Conference and its President in the performance of statutory tasks. At the proposal of the new Secretary General, the bishops also approved the appointment of the Deputy Secretary General of the Polish Bishops’ Conference, who was once again Msgr Jarosław Mrówczyński.

Commending to God all the important matters of the Church and of our homeland, the bishops give their pastoral blessing to their compatriots at home and abroad.

Signed by the shepherds of the Catholic Church in Poland present at the 398th Plenary Assembly of the Polish Bishops’ Conference.

Warsaw, 12 June 2024