The Loss of Credibility, and the Crisis of Confidence

The Church is in crisis — the deepest in recent Catholic history

11 February 2022

This crisis is all the more thought-provoking because its origins arose during two, as some commentators say, great pontificates: John Paul II and Benedict XVI.

The pontificate of Karol Wojtyła began with hope with the Second Vatican Council (11 October 1962 — 8 December 1965), which is referred to in the Church as a ‘Copernican Revolution.’ The Church, in line with the teaching of its fathers, opened up to the world. It no longer wanted to merely condemn or instruct it, but to engage in creative dialogue.

The pontificate of a Polish Pope, the first non-Italian to come from behind the Iron Curtain, also began with hope. Pope Wojtyła, in his first encyclical Redemptor Hominis (1979), written a year after assuming the See of Peter, upheld the reformist course of the Council, stating that it is not the Church that is the way of man, but man that is the way of the Church. This was a key change that placed at the centre of salvation not the Church but man, created in the image and likeness of God.

Sinking Ship

When John Paul II died in 2004, the Church was already in a state of tectonic internal upheaval. The crisis was tearing it apart from within. It was torn apart by paedophilia scandals, revealed by the media, involving clergy who — taking advantage of their position and power — sexually abused children. For a while, the Church defended itself by claiming that these were isolated incidents, that paedophilia was committed by ‘rotten fruit’. Today, we know that this is window-dressing — The Church has created ‘structures of evil’ that enable clergy to rape minors and to cover up the crimes.


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Jarosław Makowski

Philosopher, publicist, head of the “Instytutu Obywatelskiego’, a think tank of the Civic Platform, local government activist, councillor of the city of Katowice, former councillor of the Silesian Parliament, urban activist, initiator of the BoMiasto association in Katowice, founder and editor of the quarterly ‘Instytut Idei.’ Author of, among others: Wariacji Tischnerowskich (2012), Pobudki w Kościele (2017), Kościoła w czasach dobrej zmiany (2021).


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