Catholic Church attendance on the decline in Poland


Central Europe


Photo EPA, Ian Langsdon

For the first time, more Poles are choosing to opt out of Catholic church services.

According to a recent Notes From Poland report, the number of Poles who attended Catholic Masses dropped from 37 percent to 28 percent in 2021. Support for policies banning most abortions as well as a rising number of clergy sex abuse cases may have led some to forego their church membership. Catholic church authorities have also cited the pandemic and various “socio-cultural factors” as likely reasons for the decline. However, a significant proportion of the population still identify as Catholic.

Since 1980, the Institute for Catholic Church Statistics (ISKK) has submitted annual reports on the nation’s church attendance. All figures are compiled from the Catholic parishes in the country. In 1981, the number of those who attended Catholic Masses stood at nearly 53 percent. In 2011, that total dropped to 40 percent and then 36 percent in 2019. No survey was conducted in 2020 due to the pandemic.

Those who took part in communion also dropped by four percentage points from 16.7 percent in 2019 to 12.9 percent in 2021.

“In the long term, we are dealing with processes of socio-cultural changes,” the ISKK deputy director, Marcin Jewdokimow said in the <a href=" Notes from Poland" target="_blank">https://notesfrompoland.com/2023/01/14/dramatic-fall-in-church-attendance-in-poland-official-figures-show/) article, which was originally quoted by the Polish Press Agency (PAP). “On the other hand, there is a certain reconfiguration of Catholicism and the place of religion in public space. People’s religious needs are changing and the way religious institutions function is changing.”

Another national study in 2021 also found that at least 43 percent of Poles practise their religion once a week. In 1992, that number was almost 70 percent (69.5 percent). However, at least 87 percent still consider themselves as “believers.”

Poland is not the only European country to face steep declines, according to a <a href=" Catholic News Agency" target="_blank">https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/46879/catholic-church-in-poland-records-13-fall-in-sunday-mass-attendance-in-2019) report. In Germany, at least 272,771 exited the Catholic Church in 2019. Those who left the church in Austria jumped to nearly 15 percent (14,9 percent). In Switzerland, the Catholic church lost at least 31,772 members in 2019, which is over 1 percent of the total memberships in the country.



Subscribe for an update, and receive a documentary and e-book for free.

Choose your subscriptions*

You may subscribe to multiple lists.