World News

Polish poll has rare good news for Catholic Church

WARSAW (Reuters) - Support for the Roman Catholic Church has risen in Poland, a survey showed on Tuesday, despite child sexual abuse scandals that have badly eroded its authority and reputation in many other countries.

The TNS OBOP survey, conducted from April 8 to 19 among 1,056 people, showed 73 percent of Poles had a high regard for the church’s work, up 5 percentage points from March. Only 18 percent of respondents viewed the church critically.

The survey coincided with a plane crash on April 10 that killed Poland’s president, his wife and 94 others, mostly senior military and political officials. The disaster triggered a week of national mourning in which the church played a central role.

In previous months, too, support for the church has held up well in Poland, with positive ratings consistently above 60 percent, even as it struggled in countries including Germany, the Netherlands and Ireland with revelations of sexual abuse of children by priests, some of it dating back decades.

Poland, homeland of the late Pope John Paul II, remains one of the most devoutly observant Roman Catholic countries in Europe. Churches are usually packed on Sundays.

The Roman Catholic Church in Poland owes part of its appeal to the prominent role it played in preserving national identity during decades of communist rule and its moral support for the Solidarity movement that toppled the regime in 1989.

Some Poles attribute the relative lack of abuse scandals here to the fact that under communism the church was not allowed to play a big role in education or in running orphanages.

Writing by Gareth Jones, editing by Ralph Boulton