The Covid-19 Lockdown Challenges Religious Poles

The leadership of all churches had to quickly come up not with new and efficient ways of interaction with believers, as well as a religious offer which does involve a direct physical contact. Apart from online live streaming of the liturgy, some churches provide practical assistance, such as mobilizing volunteers to help out the most vulnerable in the society.

In the long run, however, the lockdown may bring about serious financial repercussion for churches, especially those with a more complex infrastructure, like the Catholic and the Orthodox churches.

First days of the epidemics in Poland

The media reports on how deadly the epidemics have turned in other countries were feeding fearful reactions of Poles too. Thus, soon after the first cases of reported Covid-19 in Poland, many consumers began acting irrationally – stocking up food supplies and hygiene products – despite the official assurance that these were not in shortage.

From the early days of the epidemics, the government has opted for a more stringent approach in fighting it, introducing serious restraints on public life. On 11 March, it ordered to shut down all institutions of education and culture, justifying this could help slow down the spread of the virus and protect the most vulnerable ones. It also recommended Poles to stay at home, social distancing, and working remotely, if possible.

‘Yes’ to the tightened social life?

Until the first day of the first Covid-19 related death, Poles did not consider the threat realistic, as the CBOS survey shows. Only 43% of respondents have moderated their daily behaviour, against 57% of those who have not done it then.[1] Also, only one third of surveyed Poles tried to limit their social life, against two third who did not do it then.

On the whole, Poles have a quite high degree of understanding of why the government has drastically curbed their social life. In a survey for the “DGP”[2] daily, nearly 77% of respondents strongly accept the closure of the institutions of education, while only 8% of them are against it. Moreover, the vast majority of respondents strongly agree with the closure of theatres and cinemas (nearly 77% of people) and bars and restaurants (nearly 74% of people). This proves both a high fear of Covid-19 among people as well as a solid level of social reservoir of trust and solidarity. Nevertheless, it is unclear how long they can accept the ongoing lockdown.

This is an excerpt from my article “Das Kreutz mit Corona: Kirkliche Reaktionen auf das Virus in Polen” published in “Religion und Gesselschaft in Ost und West” (RGOW 05/2020; in German).


[1] Read more in “How do European countries differ in religious commitment?”, Pew Research Center, 05/12/2018, at https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/12/05/how-do-european-countries-differ-in-religious-commitment/ [Accessed 04/04/2020].

[2] The survey was conducted by United Surveys for “DGP” and “RMF FM”. Read more at https://www.rmf24.pl/raporty/raport-koronawirus-z-chin/polska/news-jak-oceniamy-ograniczenia-wprowadzane-przez-rzad-sondaz-dla-,nId,4400281 [Accessed 02/04/2020]


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