The Catholic Church and Religious Pluralism in Lithuania and Poland: an anthropological study of public and private meanings of religion in postsocialist society

Project funded by the Volkswagen Foundation.

Duration: 01.09.2007 – 31.12.2010

Head of the project: Chris Hann
Responsible researchers: Ingo Schröder and Kinga Sekerdej

Despite a similar history of a dominant Catholic Church and a cultural heritage shaped by the Catholic faith, the religious fields of Lithuania and Poland have developed in different directions after the demise of socialism. In Poland, the Church continues to play a dominant role in politics and everyday life. There has even been a reinforcement of popular religiosity through the widespread veneration of Pope John Paul II. In Lithuania, an opposite tendency can be observed. While the overwhelming majority of Lithuanians are members of the Catholic Church (‘statistical Catholics’), a widespread indifference toward the Church’s teachings, the rise of religious pluralism and the proliferation of individualized constructions of religious worldviews under the influence of esoteric and New Age ideas have been observed in that country. The project was concerned with examining such general tendencies within the religious field through a long-term ethnographic study of people’s everyday social worlds.

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