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CROWDED

Map: Poland sure has a lot of Catholic churches

Hanna Kozlowska
By Hanna Kozlowska

Investigative reporter

Poland is very Catholic—so densely Catholic, in fact, that a Google map showing Catholic parishes in the country has barely any empty space.

The map was created by the website colaska.pl which compares prices of church services around the country—weddings, funerals, christenings. The numbers come from church data cross-referenced with Google maps and online crowd-sourcing. It now features around 7,000 parishes, and its creators are compiling GPS information for another 3,000, they tell Quartz.

colaska.pl
And this isn’t even all of them…

Although Poland is one of the most Catholic countries in the world, the actual number of believers is declining. A large survey (paywall, link in Polish) of Catholics in the decade after the death of the beloved and influential Polish Pope John Paul II in 2005 shows that fewer people practice and self-identify as “deeply religious.”

The latest census, in 2011, (link in Polish) shows that 97% out of all those who declared a religion said they are Catholic (which amounts to about 89% of the entire population). But, as the leading Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza pointed outchurch numbers (links in Polish) show that in 2013 only 39% of Catholics attended church regularly on Sundays, with only 16% taking communion, the most important Catholic sacrament.

This isn’t to say that Catholicism—and its conservatism—have lost their influence in the country. In fact, it’s the opposite. The church’s strong opposition to in vitro fertilization continues to be a crucial factor in political debates. The abortion law in Poland is very restrictive, and the country does not allow for same-sex civil unions, let alone marriage.

In the latest presidential election, voters had a choice of two practicing Catholics: the center-right incumbent president and his more conservative opponent, Andrzej Duda. The latter, whose constituency includes many of the practicing and deeply religious, took a surprising win.