Prelate priest Ireneusz Skubiś talks with Fr. Witold Zdaniewicz SAC – a director of the Statistic Institute of the Catholic Church

Fr. IRENEUSZ SKUBIŚ: - What is the genesis of functioning of the Statistic Institute of the Catholic Church in Poland?

Fr. WITOLD ZDANIEWICZ SAC: - Wanting to understand the significance of the Statistic Institute of the Catholic Church, it is necessary consider not only the range of its works, but also times in which these works were realized. The beginnings of the Institute reach back to the 70s of the last century. These were times of the People’s Poland, times not easy for the Church. The state authorities were observing the Church in order to diminish its role and eliminate from the social life. It was necessary all the time to defend the heritage of the Church, show its existence and the social significance.

– How does the Statistic Institute of the Catholic Church realize its tasks?

– It is a specific ministry to the Church. The Institute has existed for 40 years. It published various reports from carried out studies about the functioning of the Church and religiousness of its believers. It gives the state of the Church in numbers. It published ‘A lists of clergy’, ‘A list of parishes’, various collections of statistic data in various periods of time. All the time, the Statistic Institute of the Catholic Church is tracking the state of religiousness of believers in the following spheres: auto-declaration of faith, knowledge and religious faith, religious practices, an attitude to the Church, a parish, engagement in the life of a parish through belonging to parish communities and, finally, a coherent parameter, that is, searching an answer to the question, in what extent the Catholic model of morality is being realized.

– What do bishops and priests expect from your Institute?

– Everything what the Institute does is useful for every good functioning of the institutions of the Church. For this purpose, there are ‘A lists of clergy’, or ‘A list of parishes’. Recognition of the state of religiousness allows for planning a more effective pastoral activity. Wanting to understand the statistical work of the Institute better, one must get to know our publications.
It is worth noting that functioning of the country, its offices and institutions requires various statistical information, showing various sphere of the social life, which are provided by the Main Statistics Office and a dozen statistical offices. The social life is also recognized by various research centres.

– How does Priest see the place of the Statistic Institute of the Catholic Church in the Polish Church?

– It is possible to serve to the Church in various ways. The ministry of bishops and priests is venerable. Missionaries and preachers serve in a different way. There is a quiet and concealed ministry through a prayer and sacrifice of contemplative religious orders. There is a beautiful ministry of mothers bringing up their children. We are also serving to the Church, giving a bread slice to somebody who is hungry. Also a good newspaper is fulfilling its ministry to the Church. Moreover, the vote of a parliamentarian or a senator is very important – there are many various these or those kinds of the ministry to the Church. The Statistic Institute of the Catholic Church is looking and calculating, is watching and analyzing, what the achievements and losses of the Church are, what organization of the Church is and how it functions, what religiousness of believers is.
The Church is a religious institution. But it exists in a particular society. It has its organization and is doing its religious-social activity. It also needs good and reliable statistical information.

– What kind of material means does the Institute have?

– Here we touch on a gentle issue, that is, the need for means in order to do this activity. Unfortunately, statistical surveys are quite expensive. In the country, such surveys are financially compensated through economic activity of the country. Expenditures are envisaged in the budget of the country. The Institute cannot rely on it. Hence, we are asking the Catholics and laymen for support for doing our activity.
Here it must be noted that often secular media and centres studying the social opinion, are also interested in the Church and religiousness. However, they do not always give real and reliable information. Catholics centres sometimes use this information for necessity. So, the need for one’s own information is quite obvious.

– What are the relations of the Institute with the Polish Episcopate and other social environments?

– The Statistic Institute of the Catholic Church has been cooperating with the Secretariat of the Polish Episcopate since the beginnings of its existence. All actions and surveys are decided with it. The Institute is a scientific-research unit and is for disposition of the Secretariat.
The Institute has a Social Forum of Michael Arch-angel, that is, it is open to a dialogue and a discussion with other research centres.

– How can a Catholic support the activity of the Institute?

– The Church faces all social problems in a natural way and it will be able to find solutions to these problems only when it will recognize them well.
Forms of help can be various, for example: bank transfer onto the account of the Institute, bank transfer onto a particular research issue. The Institute will promote two issues during a year. The soonest issue is: ‘The cult of Our Lady in the Polish religiousness’. * * *

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Statistics Institute of the Catholic Church
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03-802 Warszawa


"Niedziela" 22/2013

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: