Number of Catholic Poles drops to a historic low


Central Europe


Believers attend a mass at the Dominican St Hyacinth's Church in Warsaw. Even though the marjority of the Polish population considers itself Roman Catholic, the number of believers is declining steadily. Photo AFP, Janek Skarzynski

Not too long ago, almost the entire Polish population felt connected to the Roman Catholic Church. Nowadays, the membership is at a long-time low.

New data shows that almost 30 per cent of Polish citizens no longer identify with the Roman Catholic Church. Ten years ago, this number was still lower than 20 per cent.

The declining trend in the Polish Roman Catholic Church does not come as a surprise, considering other studies, Notes from Poland points out. Especially the news about abuse scandals in the Church and its support for the strict abortion legislation in Poland have negatively impacted the popularity of the Church.

In 2021, 27.1 million people identified themselves as members of the Roman Catholic Church, data from Statistics Poland (GUS) shows. That is about 71.3 per cent of the population of the country. A decade earlier, still 33.7 million people considered themselves Roman Catholic, amounting to 87.6 per cent of the Polish population.

The people who leave the Church do not seem to join another religious denomination. Instead, the share of Poles that do not belong to any faith has tripled from 2.4 per cent in 2011 to 6.9 per cent in 2021, Notes from Poland points out.


The East of Poland seems to be more religious than its Western counterpart. In some provinces, such as Subcarpathia, Świętokrzyskie and Lublin, the Roman Catholic part of the population makes up more than 80 per cent of the total number of inhabitants. In Western provinces, such as West Pomerania, Lower Silesia and Pomerania, these percentages come close to 60 per cent.

Other religious denominations did not grow, according to the latest statistics. The Orthodox Church is the second largest denomination in Poland and has 151,648 members (0.4 per cent of the population). The Jehovah's Witnesses follow third with 108,754 members (0.3 per cent of the population).

Church abandonment is most serious among young Poles. Last year, the Catholic Primate of Poland, Archbishop Wojciech Polak, said that the decline in religious practice among young people was "devastating".



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