Poles - Religion and Expressive Culture

Religious Beliefs and Practices. Over 90 percent of the population has been baptized into the Catholic church, and 78 percent attend religious services regularly. The Roman Catholic church has great moral authority, in part because historically it has been the one organization the Polish people felt was opposed to foreign political and ideological domination. An additional twenty-five religious groups are officially recognized. In 1975, the Polish Autocephalous Orthodox, Lutheran, and Uniate denominations had over 100,000 adherents each. In some rural areas, folk beliefs and practices are found in addition to the religious dogma and services of the formal religions.

Arts. The Poles, especially in the upper classes, have been deeply immersed in all the great movements of Western Culture. The fine arts and architecture have been and are a part of the general European culture. Folk crafts were much more regionalized and are falling into desuetude, despite government attempts to revive them.

Medicine. Social insurance for health service covers free treatment for workers employed 2,000 hours per year, their families, students, invalids, pensioners, and, since 1972, private farmers. The state-operated system employs pharmacists, physicians, dentists, and nurses in hospitals, sanatoriums, clinics, pharmacies, and ambulance services. The system emphasizes preventive medical care, with special emphasis on immunization and intervention in trauma and contagious diseases. Patients, at their own expense, also may visit medical professionals in private practice. The medical system is currently in a crisis situation because of a shortage of resources.

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