Back in the ’90s, Thomas Cahill wrote an excellent book titled “How The Irish Saved Civilization.” The book documents how, when civilization might have been lost at the demise of the Roman empire, Irish monks and scribes saved the very record of civilization while at the same time re-evangelizing Europe.
I am reminded of this book when I ponder the role that Poland is currently playing and may play in the future of Europe. CWN has the results of a poll of young Poles that shows that faith remains strong in the last Catholic stronghold in Europe.
The newspaper Rzeczpospolita published survey results showing that 70% of young Poles identified themselves as Catholics. That figure is essentially unchanged since 1998, when 68% said they were Catholics. In 1988 the number was higher: 80%.
The poll, conducted in 2006, found a rising number of young people opposed to abortion, pre-marital sex, and contraception (the figures were 92%, 41%, and 43% respectively– all showing modest increases from 1998). But the survey also showed some rise in support for homosexual unions (now at 20%), assisted suicide in some circumstances (18%), and restricted cloning (12%).
It is remarkable that in the 20 years of stunning change following the collapse of communism, Catholic identity among the young remains strong. Poland is the great hope of Europe. The political leadership of Poland refuses to succumb to the secular mindset and continues to display great leadership and common sense.
As Poles transplant themselves around Europe, dormant Churches have come back to life. I pray that these people can maintain their faith, values, and identity throughout this secular assault on Christianity and the self imposed amnesia that accompanies it.
If they can, it may very well be said that the seed that re-planted Christian civilization in Europe was germinated in Poland. Perhaps somebody might then write a book that tells the tale of “How The Polish Saved Civilization.”