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 CNS Story:

POLAND-HOMILIES Feb-25-2008 (410 words) xxxi

Polish priest: Young priests plagiarize homilies from Internet

By Jonathan Luxmoore
Catholic News Service

WARSAW, Poland (CNS) -- A prominent Polish priest said young priests are using the Internet to plagiarize homilies for Masses.

"If a priest takes another person's text and presents it as his own from the pulpit, without pointing out where he got it from, this is unethical and against the law protecting authorship," said Father Wieslaw Przyczyna, co-author of the book "To Pinch or Not to Pinch."

"Unfortunately, the practice has become common here," he said.

Father Przyczyna, chairman of the Polish Homiletics Group, told Catholic News Service Feb. 25 that he had been accused of "harassing priests and exposing their weaknesses" by drawing attention to the plagiarism problem.

However, he added that more and more Polish Catholics were complaining about priests who read their Sunday homilies, while some Poles had traced the texts on the Internet and even come to Mass with their own copies.

"People realize priests are often not speaking for themselves, but merely reading someone else's sermon," said Father Przyczyna, who also heads the religious communication department at Krakow's Papal Theology Academy. "Owners of Internet sermon Web sites have noticed increased use on Saturday nights, suggesting some priests are trying to rescue themselves at the last moment by finding a text to read out at the next day's Mass. This separates the priest from his congregation and poses a serious communication problem."

Father Przyczyna said plagiarism mainly affected younger Catholic clergy familiar with the Internet.

However, he added that needs and expectations from Sunday homilies were also changing among Polish lay Catholics.

"People don't want to hear patriotic, romantic speeches today -- they get enough politics from the media and come to church for a break," he said. "But there's also been a certain jauntiness and superficiality and a tendency for preachers to choose easy options. The homilies are often unreal and don't deal with issues affecting the lives of the real congregations standing before the pulpit. Priests should speak to people as they really are, not as virtual people."

The book, co-authored by Tomasz Naganowski, a Polish press law expert, said homily texts were covered by the same regulations as other intellectual property. It said priests who publicly used texts without permission and acknowledgment could face prosecution and up to three years in jail.

The book said Polish seminarians should be instructed on the legal situation as part of their training.


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