Religion in Poland

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Religion in Poland according to the 2011 census, conducted by the Central Statistical Office (GUS)[1]

  Roman Catholicism (87.5%)
  Opting out of answer (7.1%)
  Non believer (2.4%)
  Not stated (1.6%)
  Other religions (1%)
St. Florian's Roman Catholic Cathedral in Warsaw. An overwhelming majority of ethnic Poles are adherents of Christianity.

While a number of religious communities operate in Poland, the majority of the country's population adheres to Christianity. Within this, the largest grouping is the Roman Catholic Church, with 87.5% of Poles in 2011 identifying as Roman Catholic (census conducted by the Central Statistical Office (GUS)).[1] According to the Institute for Catholic Church Statistics, 36.7% of Polish Catholic believers attended Sunday church services in 2016.[2]

Catholicism continues to play an important role in the lives of many Poles and the Roman Catholic Church in Poland enjoys social prestige and political influence, despite repression experienced under Communist rule.[3] Its members regard it as a repository of Polish heritage and culture.[4] Poland lays claim to having the highest proportion of Catholic citizens of any country in Europe except for Malta (including more than in Italy, Spain, and Ireland).[5]

This numerical dominance results from the Nazi-era German Holocaust of Jews living in Poland and the World War II casualties among Polish religious minorities,[6][7][8][9] as well as the flight and expulsion of Germans, many of whom were not Catholics, at the end of World War II.

The rest of the population consists mainly of Eastern Orthodox (Polish Orthodox Church) (504,400 believers, Polish and Belarusian),[10] various Protestant churches (the largest being the Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in Poland with 61,270 members)[10] and Jehovah's Witnesses (118,774).[10] There are about 55,000 Greek Catholics in Poland.[10] Other religions practiced in Poland, by less than 1% of the population, include Islam and Judaism and to a lesser extent Hinduism and Buddhism.[11]

According to 2015 statistics by Statistics Poland, 94.2% of the population is affiliated to a religion, while 3.1% doesn't belong to any religion. The most practiced religion was Roman Catholicism, whose followers comprised the 92.8% of the population, followed by the Eastern Orthodox with 0.7% (in rise from 0.4% in 2011, also due to the recent Ukrainian immigrants), Jehovah's Witnesses with 0.3% and the various Protestant denominations comprising the 0.2%. [12] According to the same survey, 61.1% of the population gave religion high to very high importance whilst 13.8% regarded religion with little or no importance at all; while believers are more predominant in Eastern Poland.


St. Mary's Cathedral in Radom.

For centuries the Slavic people inhabiting the lands of modern day Poland have practiced various forms of paganism known as Rodzimowierstwo (“native faith”).[13][14][15][16] From the beginning of its statehood, different religions coexisted in Poland. With the baptism of Poland in 966, the old pagan religions were gradually eradicated over the next few centuries during the Christianization of Poland. However, this did not put an end to pagan beliefs in the country. The persistence was demonstrated by a series of rebellions known as the Pagan reaction in the first half of the 11th century, which also showed elements of a peasant uprising against landowners and feudalism,[17] and led to a mutiny that destabilized the country.[18][19][20][21] By the 13th century Catholicism had become the dominant religion throughout the country. Nevertheless, Christian Poles coexisted with a significant Jewish segment of the population.[22][23]

In the 15th century, the Hussite Wars and the pressure from the papacy led to religious tensions between Catholics and the emergent Hussite and subsequent Protestant community; particularly after the Edict of Wieluń (1424).[24] The Protestant movement gained a significant following in Poland; and while Catholicism retained a dominant position, the liberal Warsaw Confederation (1573) guaranteed wide religious tolerance.[24] The resulting counter-reformation movement eventually succeeded in reducing the scope for tolerance by the late 17th and early 18th century – as evidenced by events such as the Tumult of Toruń (1724).[24][25][26]

When Poland lost its independence to foreign invaders in 1795, Poles were subjected to religious discrimination in the expanded Germany and Imperial Russia.[27]

Prior to Second World War there were 3,500,000 Jews in the Polish Second Republic, about 10% of the general population, living predominantly in the cities. Between the 1939 German invasion of Poland, and the end of World War II, over 90% of Jewry in Poland perished.[28] The Holocaust, also known as Shoah took the lives of more than three million Jews in Poland (majority of Ashkenazi descent). Only a small percentage managed to survive in the German-occupied Poland or successfully escaped east into the territories of Poland annexed by the Soviet Union, beyond the reach of the Nazis. As elsewhere in Europe during the interwar period, there was both official and popular anti-Semitism in Poland, at times encouraged by the Catholic Church and by some political parties (particularly the right-wing endecja and small ONR groups and faction), but not directly by the government.[29]

According to a 2011 survey by Ipsos MORI 85% of the Poles remain Christians, 8% are irreligious, atheist or agnostic, 2% adhere to unspecified other religions, and 5% did not give an answer to the question.[30]

The Polish Constitution and religion[edit]

Percentage of persons who declared that they believe or very deeply believe, 2015.[31]

According to Poland's Constitution freedom of religion is ensured to everyone. It also allows for national and ethnic minorities to have the right to establish educational and cultural institutions, institutions designed to protect religious identity, as well as to participate in the resolution of matters connected with their cultural identity.[32]

Religious organizations in the Republic of Poland can register their institution with the Ministry of Interior and Administration creating a record of churches and other religious organizations who operate under separate Polish laws. This registration is not necessary; however, it is beneficial when it comes to serving the freedom of religious practice laws.

The Slavic Rodzimowiercy groups, registered with the Polish authorities in 1995, are the Native Polish Church (Rodzimy Kościół Polski) which represents a pagan tradition that goes back to pre-Christian faiths and continues Władysław Kołodziej's 1921 Holy Circle of Worshipper of Światowid (Święte Koło Czcicieli Światowida), and the Polish Slavic Church (Polski Kościół Słowiański).[33] This native Slavic religion is promoted also by the Native Faith Association (Zrzeszenie Rodzimej Wiary, ZRW), and the Association for Tradition founded in 2015.

Major denominations[edit]

There are roughly 125 faith groups and other minor religions registered in Poland.[34] Data for 2017 provided by Główny Urząd Statystyczny, Poland's Central Statistical Office.[10]

Denomination Members Leadership
Catholic Church in Poland[34], including:
Roman Catholic
Wojciech Polak, Prymas of Poland
Stanisław Gądecki, Chairman of Polish Episcopate
Salvatore Pennacchio, Apostolic Nuncio to Poland
Jan Martyniak, Archbishop Metropolite of Byzantine-Ukrainian Rite
Polish Autocephalous Orthodox Church 504,400 Metropolitan of Warsaw Sawa
Jehovah's Witnesses in Poland 118,774 Warszawska 14, Nadarzyn Pl-05830
Evangelical-Augsburg Church in Poland 61,270 Bishop Fr. Jerzy Samiec
Pentecostal Church in Poland 23,984 Bishop Marek Kamiński
Old Catholic Mariavite Church in Poland 22,849 Chief Bishop Fr. Marek Maria Karol Babi
Polish Catholic Church (Old Catholic) 18,058 Bishop Wiktor Wysoczański
Seventh-day Adventist Church in Poland 9,660 President of the Church, Ryszard Jankowski
Church of Christ in Poland 5,869 Bishop Andrzej W. Bajeński
New Apostolic Church in Poland 5,633 Bishop Waldemar Starosta
Christian Baptist Church in Poland
 • Baptist Union of Poland
5,243 President of the Church: Dr. Mateusz Wichary
Church of God in Christ 4,933 Bishop Andrzej Nędzusiak
Evangelical Methodist Church in Poland 4,465 Ruler of the Church, Andrzej Malicki
Evangelical Reformed Church in Poland 3,435 President consistory Dr. Witold Brodziński
Catholic Mariavite Church in Poland 1,838 Bishop Damiana Maria Beatrycze Szulgowicz
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Poland 1,695 President of the Church: Russel M. Nelson

Warsaw Mission President: Mateusz Turek

Islamic Religious Union in Poland 773 President of the Supreme Muslim College Stefan Korycki
Union of Jewish Religious Communities in Poland
(data from 2011)[35]
430  • President of the Main Board Piotr Kadlčik
 • Chief rabbi of Poland Michael Schudrich

2015 poll by CBOS[edit]

According to an opinion poll conducted "on a representative group of 1,000 people" by the Centre for Public Opinion Research (CBOS), published in 2015: 39% of Poles claim they are "believers following the Church's laws", while 52% answered they are "believers in their own understanding and way" and 5% answered that they are atheists.[36][37]

Selected locations[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b GUS, Narodowy Spis Powszechny Ludnosci 2011: 4.4. Przynależność wyznaniowa (National Survey 2011: 4.4 Membership in faith communities) p. 99/337 (PDF file, direct download 3.3 MB). ISBN 978-83-7027-521-1 Retrieved 27 December 2014.
  2. ^ Sadłoń, Wojciech (ed.). Annuarium Statisticum Ecclesiae in Polonia AD 2018 (PDF) (in Polish). Warszawa: Instytut Statystyki Kościoła Katolickiego SAC. p. 4. doi:10.13140/RG.2.2.23260.90248.
  3. ^ "Religion in Poland". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 9 January 2018.
  4. ^ [1] Archived 1 April 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^
  6. ^ Project in Posterum, Poland World War II casualties. Retrieved 20 September 2013.
  7. ^ Holocaust: Five Million Forgotten: Non-Jewish Victims of the Shoah.
  8. ^ AFP/Expatica, Polish experts lower nation's WWII death toll,, 30 August 2009
  9. ^ Tomasz Szarota & Wojciech Materski, Polska 1939–1945. Straty osobowe i ofiary represji pod dwiema okupacjami, Warsaw, IPN 2009, ISBN 978-83-7629-067-6 (Introduction online. Archived 1 February 2013 at the Wayback Machine)
  10. ^ a b c d e "Niektóre wyznania religijne w Polsce w 2017 r. (Selected religious denominations in Poland in 2017)". Mały Rocznik Statystyczny Polski 2018 (Concise Statistical Yearbook of Poland 2018) (PDF) (in Polish and English). Warszawa: Główny Urząd Statystyczny. 2018. pp. 114–115. ISSN 1640-3630.
  11. ^ Ciecieląg, Paweł, ed. (2016). Wyznania religijne w Polsce 2012-2014 (PDF). Warszawa: Główny Urząd Statystyczny. pp. 142–173. ISBN 9788370276126.
  12. ^ GUS. "Infographic - Religiousness of Polish inhabitiants". Retrieved 17 June 2019.
  13. ^
  14. ^ Gniazdo – Rodzima wiara i kultura, nr 2(7)/2009 – Ratomir Wilkowski: Rozważania o wizerunku rodzimowierstwa na przykładzie...
  15. ^
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  18. ^ Gerard Labuda (1992). Mieszko II król Polski: 1025–1034 : czasy przełomu w dziejach państwa polskiego. Secesja. p. 102. ISBN 978-83-85483-46-5. Retrieved 27 March 2013.
  19. ^ Gerard Labuda (1992). Mieszko II król Polski: 1025–1034 : czasy przełomu w dziejach państwa polskiego. Secesja. p. 102. ISBN 978-83-85483-46-5. Retrieved 27 March 2013.
  20. ^ Polska Akademia Nauk. Komitet Słowianoznawstwa (1967). Słownik starożytności słowiańskich: encyklopedyczny zarys kultury słowian od czasów najdawniejszych. Zkład Narodowy im. Ossolińskich. p. 247. Retrieved 27 March 2013. Widziano w M. wodza powstania pogańsko-ludowego
  21. ^ Oskar Halecki; W: F. Reddaway; J. H. Penson. The Cambridge History of Poland. CUP Archive. p. 34. ISBN 978-1-00-128802-4. Retrieved 27 March 2013.
  22. ^ Piotr Stefan Wandycz (1980). The United States and Poland. Harvard University Press. p. 15. ISBN 978-0-674-92685-1.
  23. ^ Jerzy Lukowski; W. H. Zawadzki (6 July 2006). A Concise History of Poland. Cambridge University Press. pp. 9–10. ISBN 978-0-521-85332-3. Retrieved 5 April 2012.
  24. ^ a b c Hillar, Marian (1992). "The Polish Constitution of May 3, 1791: Myth and Reality". The Polish Review. 37 (2): 185–207. JSTOR 25778627.
  25. ^ Jerzy Jan Lerski (1996). Historical Dictionary of Poland, 966-1945. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 113. ISBN 978-0-313-26007-0.
  26. ^ Beata Cieszynska (2 May 2008). "Polish Religious Persecution as a Topic in British Writing in the Seventeenth and Early Eighteenth Century". In Richard Unger; Jakub Basista (eds.). Britain and Poland-Lithuania: Contact and Comparison from the Middle Ages to 1795. BRILL. p. 243. ISBN 90-04-16623-8.
  27. ^ "Anna M". Retrieved 9 January 2018.
  28. ^ Lukas, Richard C. (1989). Out of the Inferno: Poles Remember the Holocaust. University Press of Kentucky. pp. 5, 13, 111, 201. ISBN 978-0-8131-1692-1.
    —— (2001). The Forgotten Holocaust: The Poles under German Occupation, 1939–1944. Hippocrene Books. p. 13. ISBN 978-0-7818-0901-6.
  29. ^ Poland's Holocaust by Tadeusz Piotrowski. Published by McFarland. From Preface: policy of genocide.
  30. ^ Views on globalisation and faith Archived 17 January 2013 at the Wayback Machine. Ipsos MORI, 5 July 2011.
  31. ^,4,1.html
  32. ^ Works related to Constitution of the Republic of Poland at Wikisource
  33. ^ Simpson, Scott (2000). Native Faith: Polish Neo-Paganism At the Brink of the 21st Century
  34. ^ a b "Society". Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 2002. Retrieved 3 December 2008.
  35. ^ Ciecieląg, Paweł, ed. (2016). Wyznania religijne w Polsce 2012-2014 (PDF). Warszawa: Główny Urząd Statystyczny. p. 150. ISBN 9788370276126.
  36. ^ Boguszewski, Rafał (February 2015). "ZMIANY W ZAKRESIE PODSTAWOWYCH WSKAŹNIKÓW RELIGIJNOŚCI POLAKÓW PO ŚMIERCI JANA PAWŁA II" (PDF). CBOS. p. 6. Retrieved 23 January 2017.
  37. ^ "Wierzę w Boga Ojca, ale nie w Kościół powszechny". 23 January 2017. Retrieved 9 January 2018.

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