[lg policy] Polish bishops explain policy changes on migrant Catholics

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at gmail.com
Wed May 2 10:16:20 EDT 2018

 Polish bishops explain policy changes on migrant Catholics

[image: Polish bishops explain policy changes on migrant Catholics]

*'Many of our countrymen are now well rooted abroad and face no barriers in
their contact with local church representatives and communities'*

The Polish bishop in charge of communities abroad has defended his Church's
call for Polish Catholics to join local parishes in Britain and other
countries, instead of sticking to their own separate communities.

"Poland's bishops are fully aware Polish parishes abroad form part of the
local Church and that pastoral work with Polish emigrants comes under a
diocesan bishop's jurisdiction", said Bishop Wieslaw Lechowicz, the Polish
Bishops Conference's delegate for diaspora Catholics.

"When the European Union's borders were opened, a great many Poles left in
a short period and contact with Polish Church outposts was very important
for them... But today the situation has changed - many of our countrymen
are now well rooted abroad and face no barriers in their contact with local
church representatives and communities".

The bishop made his comments as a pastoral letter was read on Sunday at
Polish Masses worldwide, conceding that the Polish Church no longer had
enough clergy for migrant needs and advising Poles to start attending the
Eucharist in the language of their country of residence.

In a Tablet interview, Bishop Lechowicz said many young migrant Catholics
now had Polish as a second language, making it important for them to
witness to the faith alongside other national groups and associate the
Church "not just with Polish communities".

The Polish Church's London-based mission has over 220 parishes and pastoral
centres in England and Wales, with separate missions operating in Scotland
and Ireland.     In a 2007 pastoral letter, the Warsaw-based Bishops
Conference said Polish parishes were often "the only centres for Polish
identity and culture", and urged Poles to seek out their own priests when
abroad. However, in the latest letter, marking the centenary of Poland's
1918 independence, the Conference said foreign bishops counted on Polish
Catholics to "influence believers from other national groups" via local
church communities, and urged them to "maintain good, regular contacts with
Catholics of other nationalities".

Bishop Lechowicz told The Tablet the Polish Church was grateful to local
bishops for accepting a "Polish pastoral structure" in their dioceses, and
recognising Poles' "fundamental right" to Masses in their own language, but
said some conflicts had nevertheless arisen.

"We're only human, so sometimes misunderstandings emerge in local circles -
over someone's ambition, stereotypes, prejudices or character traits",
Bishop Lechowicz said. "What's important now is to merge Polish clergy and
laypeople within the parish and diocesan body of the local church, wherever
Poles live each day, and then to begin co-operating with various groups and
pastoral communities. This all requires a maturity of faith and openness -
both from Poles and from representatives of local churches".


 Harold F. Schiffman

Professor Emeritus of
 Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

Phone:  (215) 898-7475
Fax:  (215) 573-2138

Email:  haroldfs at gmail.com

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