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Hungarian census finds significant drop in Catholicism

St. Stephen's Basilica, Budapest

Mitzo | Shutterstock

St. Stephen's Basilica, Budapest.

J-P Mauro - published on 10/14/23

While 40% of respondents did not answer questions about faith, a solid 50% of those who did identified themselves as Catholic.

The Hungarian Central Statistics Office (KSH) has recently released the results of the 2022 Hungarian census. Along with a decrease in minority populations, as well as a growing multi-lingual portion, the census posed questions about religious preference. Here, Catholics were found to have significantly dwindled in the European nation. 

A sharp decrease was seen in those who claim Catholicism as their faith, although it should be noted that questions of religious preference were optional and only about 60% of respondents answered them. According to Daily News Hungary, a solid half (50%) of those who chose to respond identified themselves as Catholic. Furthermore, 16% identified themselves as part of the Reformed Church, and only 3.1% said they were Lutheran.

The rate at which Hungarian citizens identified themselves as Catholic was significantly lower than it has been in previous years. In the 2001 census, roughly 5 million Hungarians called themselves Catholic, but by 2011 this figure had fallen to 3.7 million. Now, the portion of Catholics in Hungary has dwindled even further, falling to 2.9 million. 

The Hungarian Catholic Bishops’ Conference expressed its gratitude for those who chose to respond to questions of faith and celebrated that over two-thirds identified themselves as Christian: 

“We are pleased that, although 40% of the population did not answer the question about religious affiliation, more than two-thirds of our compatriots who expressly declared their religion declared themselves to belong to the Catholic Church.”

The census also identified changes to several minority demographics, including the Roma population, which fell to about 200,000 from 350,000 in 2011. In the last year, the number of Ukrainian immigrants has also surged in Hungary, due to the ongoing war between Ukraine and Russia. 

Foreign languages were also found to be more popular than ever, with an estimated 50% of Hungarians in their 20s reporting being fluent in English. Overall a quarter of the population has some ability to speak in English or German, which is the second most popular language besides the native Hungarian. 

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