SOUL TRAIN

For Christmas, trains in Poland will have onboard confessionals

If you can do Mass on a train, why not confession?
If you can do Mass on a train, why not confession?
Image: Reuters/Kacper Pempel
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A small, publicly owned regional railway operator in Poland will offer onboard confessionals during the Christmas holidays, Polish media report.

On Dec. 21 and 24, passengers on certain Koleje Małopolskie (“Lesser Poland Railways”) trains will be able to participate in the Catholic sacrament of confession, with priests setting up on certain routes. The operator told local paper Gazeta Krakowska that it will soon provide details about the initiative. It did not respond to Quartz’s request for comment.

According to a survey by public-polling institute CBOS, about 92% of Poles identify as Catholic. But the number of Polish Catholics taking part in religious activity is falling somewhat—in 2016, only 37% attended Mass, according to research from the church (all links above in Polish). That was a record low—the number has hovered around 40% for about a decade—but it’s important to note the unusual methodology: Each year, all parishes count Mass attendees on one chosen Sunday.

This year, the church was shaken by an explosive movie about priests’ sexual abuse of children. Although fictional, Kler (in English, Clergy) hit a nerve in the country; theater showings repeatedly sold out.