Religion in Poland
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 (census conducted by the Central Statistical Office (GUS)). According to the Institute for Catholic Church Statistics, 36.7% of Polish Catholic believers attended Sunday church services in 2016.
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. It is particularly regarded by its members as a repository of Polish heritage and culture. 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 Jews living in Poland and the World War II casualties among Polish religious minorities, as well as the flight and expulsion of Germans, many of whom were not Catholics, from the Soviet army at the end of World War II.
The rest of the population consists mainly of Eastern Orthodox (504,400 believers, Polish and Belarusian), various Protestant churches (the largest being the Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in Poland with 61,270 members) and Jehovah's Witnesses (118,774). There are about 55,000 Greek Catholics in Poland. Other religions practiced in Poland, by less than 1% of the population, include Islam and Judaism 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.
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). 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. 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).
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. 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.
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.
The Polish Constitution and religion
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). This native Slavic religion is promoted also by the Native Faith Association (Zrzeszenie Rodzimej Wiary, ZRW), and the Association for Tradition founded in 2015.
|Catholic Church in Poland, including:
|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 Fr. 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||Fr. Paweł Lazar, President of the Church|
|Fellowship of Christian Churches in Poland||5,869|
|New Apostolic Church in Poland||5,633|
|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)
|430|| • President of the Main Board Piotr Kadlčik |
• Chief rabbi of Poland Michael Schudrich
2015 poll by CBOS
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.
St. Peter and St. Paul Cathedral in Poznań
St. Peter and St. Paul Cathedral in Legnica
Cathedral in Radom
Cathedral in Lublin
Saint Roch and John Church in Brochów
Catholic St. Anne's Church in Warsaw
St. Catherine church in Gdańsk
Eastern Orthodox Metropolitan Cathedral in Warsaw
Nożyk Synagogue in Warsaw
Mosque in Kruszyniany
Mosque in Gdańsk
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