Religious Beliefs In Portugal

A Catholic procession in Prozelo, Greece.
A Catholic procession in Prozelo, Greece.

Portugal has no state or official religion, but the most predominant religion in the country is Christianity. Despite the church and the state being a separate entity, a separation that is entrenched in the 1976 constitution, the Roman Catholic concepts continue to influence the Portuguese society and culture. The church continues to play an important role, especially in the educational and health systems. The Catholic Church has received several privileges from the state although the state and the church are formally separated. Demographically, religious involvement and practices increase with age with a younger generation being less involved in the religious activities compared to the older generation.

Religious Beliefs In Portugal

Roman Catholic Christianity

81% of the Portuguese consider themselves Roman Catholic Christians with over 18% attending Mass and taking sacrament regularly. Catholicism plays a major role in the lives of Portuguese as evident by the physical organization of the villages across the country. The celebration of Saints’ Day and other Catholic festivals are very popular, especially in the rural areas. The Catholic Church in the country is part of the worldwide Catholic Church under the leadership of Pope. The Roman Catholic was introduced to Portugal under the Roman Empire in the 1st millennium AD. The creation of the Portugal Empire in the 15th century led to the spread of Catholicism in Portugal and its colonies in Africa and South America. The Archbishop is the head of the Catholic Church in Portugal and is called the Patriarch of Lisbon. Portugal is a location for one of the major Catholic shrines and Marian Pilgrimage. Two Popes have been born in Portugal; Damasus I and John XXI.

Atheism Or Agnosticism

About 7% of the Portuguese population is an atheist or irreligious people. According to the 2011 census over 615,000 people stated that they were without religion or did not identify with any religion in the country. The majority of the irreligious population is from the urban areas of Portugal. However, the majority of them acknowledge that they were born into a religious family, mostly Roman Catholic families. The majority of the irreligious people in Portugal are the young people. The presence of many religious groups and the inability to choose one out of the many religions is a major reason for the high number of atheists in the country.

Protestant Christianity

Protestantism is a minority religion in Portugal because few non-Roman Catholics exist in the country. Only 5% of the Portuguese practice Protestantism. Protestantism was brought into Portugal in the 19th century by the British. Most of the Protestants belonged to the Anglican Church of England, but other included the Methodists, Presbyterians, and the Baptists. The constitutional Monarch of 1834 led to the opening of an Anglican Chapel in Lisbon and series of Anglican missions. By 1990s the number of Protestant Christians in Portugal had increased significantly. However, restrictions and prohibition against the free exercise of religion, especially missionary work, slowed the spread of Protestantism in Portugal.

Other Minor Religions In Portugal

The Muslim community in Portugal consists of a small number of immigrants from Africa. The majority of Muslims in the country are Sunni. The Jewish community in Portugal numbers less than 5,000 and is concentrated in Lisbon. The Baha’i Faith is made up of less than 2,000 members with majority being foreigners

Religious Beliefs In Portugal

RankBelief SystemShare of Population in Portugal
1Roman Catholic Christianity81%
2Atheism or Agnosticism7%
3Protestant Christianity3%
Islam, Baha'i Faith, Judaism, Eastern Religions, or Other Beliefs9%

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