Religion in Poland

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

  Roman Catholicism (87.5%)
  Opting out of answer (7.1%)
  Non believer (2.4%)
  Not stated (1.6%)
  Orthodoxy (0.7%)
  Other religions (1%)

While there are a number of religious communities operating in Poland, the majority of its 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,[1] (census conducted by the Central Statistics Office (GUS)).[1][2][3] Nevertheless, only 65% of Polish believers attend church services on a regular basis.[4]

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.[5] It is particularly regarded by its members as a repository of Polish heritage and culture.[6] Poland lays claim to having the highest proportion of Catholic citizens than any country in Europe except for Malta (including more than in Italy, Spain and Ireland).

This numerical dominance results from the Nazi German Holocaust of Polish Jews and the World War II casualties among Polish religious minorities,[7][8][9][10] as well as the flight of German Protestants from the Soviet army at the end of World War II.

The rest of the population consists mainly of Eastern Orthodox (504,150 believers, Polish and Belarusian),[2][3] various Protestant churches (about 145,600, with the largest being the Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in Poland with 61,738 members)[2][3][3] and Jehovah's Witnesses (129,270). Other religions practiced in Poland include Islam and Judaism[2][3] and to a lesser extent Hinduism and Buddhism.


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. 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.[11][12]

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).[13] 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.[13] 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 Torun (1724).[13][14][15]

When Poland lost its independence to foreign invaders in 1795, Poles were subjected to religious discrimination in the expanded Germany and Imperial Russia.[16]

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 Polish Jewry perished.[17] The Holocaust, also known as Shoah took the lives of more than three million Polish Jews. 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 faction), but not directly by the government.[18]

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.[19]

The Polish Constitution and religion[edit]

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.

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).[20] 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 in Poland[edit]

There are roughly 125 faith groups and other minor religions registered in Poland.[21] Data provided by Główny Urząd Statystyczny, Poland's Central Statistical Office.[2][3]

Denomination Members Leadership
Catholic Church in Poland[21]
 • Roman Catholic
 • Byzantine-Ukrainian
 • Armenian
33,399,327  • Wojciech Polak, Prymas of Poland
 • Stanisław Gądecki, Chairman of Polish Episcopate
 • Celestino Migliore, Apostolic Nuncio to Poland
 • Jan Martyniak, Archbishop Metropolite of Byzantine-Ukrainian Rite
Polish Autocephalous Orthodox Church 504,150 Metropolitan of Warsaw Sawa
Jehovah's Witnesses in Poland 129,270 Warszawska 14, Nadarzyn Pl-05830
Evangelical-Augsburg Church in Poland 61,738 Bishop Fr. Jerzy Samiec
Old Catholic Mariavite Church in Poland 23,436 Chief Bishop Fr. Michał Maria Ludwik Jabłoński
Pentecostal Church in Poland 22,429 Bishop Fr. Marek Kamiński
Polish Catholic Church (Old Catholic) 20,402 Bishop Wiktor Wysoczański
Seventh-day Adventist Church in Poland 9,654 Fr. Paweł Lazar, President of the Church
Christian Baptist Church in Poland
 • Baptist Union of Poland
5,100 President of the Church: Dr. Mateusz Wichary
Evangelical Methodist Church in Poland 4,352 Ruler of the Church, Bishop Edward Puślecki
Church of God in Christ 4,140 Bishop Andrzej Nędzusiak
Evangelical Reformed Church in Poland 3,488 President consistory Dr. Witold Brodziński
Catholic Mariavite Church in Poland 1,980 Bishop Damiana Maria Beatrycze Szulgowicz
Christian Community Pentecostal 1,588 Bishop Roman Jawdyk
Union of Jewish Religious Communities in Poland 1,222  • President of the Main Board Piotr Kadlčik
 • Chief rabbi of Poland Michael Schudrich
Islamic Religious Union in Poland 1,132 President of the Supreme Muslim College Stefan Korycki

Theism poll by CBOS[edit]

According to an opinion poll conducted among a smaller subset of target respondents by the Centre for Public Opinion Research (CBOS) in conjunction with the Catholic think-tank Centrum Myśli Jana Pawła II (John Paul II Centre for Thought), published in the spring of 2015: 56% of Poles claim "they never doubt they believe in God", 27% of believers claim "they have moments when they doubt about the existence of God", 4% claim they "do not believe in God or do not know", 5% believes in "some kind of a higher force", while 3% is "sure that there is no God". According to the same poll, 65% of respondents regularly take part in religious practices.[22][23][24]

Selected locations[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c 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. ^ a b c d e Główny Urząd Statystyczny (2012). Rocznik statystyczny Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej 2012 (PDF). Warszawa: Zakład Wydawnictw Statystycznych.  (Polish)/(English)
  3. ^ a b c d e f Główny Urząd Statystyczny (2013-03-28). "Wyznania religijne stowarzyszenia narodowościowe i etniczne w Polsce 2009–2011" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-04-19.  (Polish)/(English)
  4. ^,114871,17506668,CBOS__56_proc__Polakow_nie_ma_watpliwosci__ze_Bog.html?lokale=local#BoxNewsLink
  5. ^ "Encyclopædia Britannica - Religion in Poland".
  6. ^ Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia 2007. "Poland".
  7. ^ Project in Posterum, Poland World War II casualties. Retrieved 20 September 2013.
  8. ^ Holocaust: Five Million Forgotten: Non-Jewish Victims of the Shoah.
  9. ^ AFP/Expatica, Polish experts lower nation's WWII death toll,, 30 August 2009
  10. ^ 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.)
  11. ^ Piotr Stefan Wandycz (1980). The United States and Poland. Harvard University Press. p. 15. ISBN 978-0-674-92685-1. 
  12. ^ 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. 
  13. ^ a b c Hillar, Marian (1992). "The Polish Constitution of May 3, 1791: Myth and Reality". The Polish Review 37 (2): 185–207. Retrieved 18 April 2014. 
  14. ^ Jerzy Jan Lerski (1996). Historical Dictionary of Poland, 966-1945. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 113. ISBN 978-0-313-26007-0. 
  15. ^ 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. Britain and Poland-Lithuania: Contact and Comparison from the Middle Ages to 1795. BRILL. p. 243. ISBN 90-04-16623-8. 
  16. ^ Anna M. Cienciala, The Rebirth of Poland, at academic lectures.
  17. ^ Cite error: The named reference Lukas was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  18. ^ Cite error: The named reference piotrowski was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  19. ^ Views on globalisation and faith. Ipsos MORI, 5 July 2011.
  20. ^ Simpson, Scott (2000). Native Faith: Polish Neo-Paganism At the Brink of the 21st Century
  21. ^ a b "Society". Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 2002. Retrieved 2008-12-03. 
  22. ^,114871,17506668,CBOS__56_proc__Polakow_nie_ma_watpliwosci__ze_Bog.html?lokale=local#BoxNewsLink
  23. ^ Religion in Europe: Trust Not Filling the Pews, Gallup, 21 September 2004.
  24. ^ Boguszewski, Rafał (April 2012). "ZMIANY W ZAKRESIE WIARY I RELIGIJNOŚCI POLAKÓW PO ŚMIERCI JANA PAWŁA II" (PDF). CBOS. p. 5. Retrieved 31 July 2014. 

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