The Polish weekly newspaper Niedziela (Sunday) reported this week the findings of a survey on confession conducted by the Institute of Statistics of the Catholic Church.
The confession research, done on a group of 686 practicing Polish Catholics selected at random, was conducted Feb. 13-17, 2008, which coincided with the first week of Lent.
"We chose Lent on purpose since it is the time of the most intensive 'conscience clearing,'" explained Father Ireneusz Skubis, the editor-in-chief of Sunday Catholic Weekly.
In Poland, 90% of the population is Catholic, while 75% are considered practicing. The survey taken from a small sampling gave strong evidence that for Polish Catholics, confession is not simply an empty ritual to "rattle off" their sins, but is valued as an obligation of their faith.
The study revealed that the majority of Catholic Poles go to confession more than just the minimum requirement of once a year. The percentage that said they only go once a year was 1.7%, while 51.7% said they go several times a year. 46.5% said they go to confession monthly.
The first Friday devotion, which involves monthly confession and Mass attendance, continues to be widely observed in Poland, according to the research. 51.3% of women questioned said they observe the devotion, while the number dropped to 42.4% for men.
Of those surveyed, most said that confession helps them work on their character. 85.9% of the respondents admitted that confession helped them to overcome vices while more than half of the respondents, 53.6%, said confession assisted them in forgiving others, which also helped to maintain stronger family ties.
When asked about an ideal confessor, one-third of the respondents said they prefer a stranger. More than 78% said they expect their confessor to be understanding, and 77% wanted a confessor who helped them out during confession by asking them questions.