World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Religion in Austria

Article Id: WHEBN0008419772
Reproduction Date:

Title: Religion in Austria  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Religion in Europe, Religion in the European Union, Austria, Freedom of religion in Austria, Religion in Austria
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Religion in Austria

Religion in Austria (2012)

  Catholic Church (63.5%)
  Islam (7%)
  Lutheranism (3.7%)
  Other or irreligion (19.7%)

Among religions in Austria, Roman Catholic Christianity is predominant. According to the 2001 census, 73.6% of the country's population adhered to this denomination.[1] As of 2012, the number of Catholics has dropped to about 63.4% of the population.[2][3] In 2013 the number of Catholics dropped by another 1% to 62,4% of the total Austrian population.[4] There is a much smaller group of Lutherans, totaling about 4.7% of the population in 2001, 3.7% in 2012.[5] Since the 2001 census these two historically dominant religious groups in Austria recorded losses in the number of adherents. The Roman Catholic Church reported a drop of ~10%, the Lutheran Church of ~1%.

In contrast, the number of [8] Both the communities are represented by recent immigrants, especially from Turkey and the Balkans. There are also minor communities of Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and Jews, and other religions in Austria.[9][10]


Main denominations in Austria[11][12]
year population Catholics percentage Lutherans[13] percentage
1951 6,933,905 6,170,084 89.0 % 429,493 6.2%
1961 7,073,807 6,295,075 89.0 % 438,663 6.2%
1971 7,491,526 6,548,316 87.4 % 447,070 6,0%
1981 7,555,338 6,372,645 84.3 % 423,162 5,6%
1991 7,795,786 6,081,454 78.0 % 338,709 5.0%
2001 8,032,926 5,915,421 73.6 % 376,150 4.7%
2005 8,250,000 5,662,782 68.5 % -
2008 8,350,000 5,579,493 66.8 % 328,346 3.9%
2009 8,376,761[14] 5,533,517 66.0 % 325,314[15] 3.9%
2010 8,387,742[14] 5,452,734[3] 65.0 % 323,863[5] 3.9%
2011 8,430,558[14] 5,403,722[3] 64.1 % 319,752[5] 3.8%
2012 8,451,860[14] 5,359,151[16] 63.4 % 313,289[17] 3.7%
2013 8,507,786[14] 5,310,000[16] 62.4 %

Austria was greatly affected by the Protestant reformation, to the point a big part of the population became Protestant. The prominent position of the Habsburgs in the Counter-Reformation, however, saw Protestantism all but wiped out, restoring Catholicism as the dominant religion once more. The significant Jewish population (around 200,000 in 1938), mainly residing in Vienna, was reduced to just a couple of thousand through mass emigration in 1938 (more than 2/3 of the Jewish population emigrated from 1938 until 1941), and the following Holocaust during the Nazi period. Immigration in more recent years, primarily from Turkey and the former Yugoslavia, has led to an increased number of Muslims and Serbian Orthodox Christians.[10] As in other European countries, there has been a growth of Pagan movements in Austria in recent years.

Changes in church adherence and attendance

Since the second half of the 20th century, the number of churchgoers has dropped. Data for the end of 2005 from the Austrian Roman Catholic church lists 5,662,782 members or 68.5% of the total Austrian population, and a Sunday church attendance of 753,701 or 9% of the total Austrian population.[18] Data for the end of 2008 published by the Austrian Roman Catholic church shows a further reduction to 5,579,493 members or 66.8% of the total Austrian population, and a Sunday church attendance of 698,527 or 8% of the total Austrian population.[19] A further reduction was recorded in 2009 to 5,533,517 adherents of which 683,807 attend Sunday mass.[20] These figures reduced further to 5,359,151 adherents of which 633,319 (7,5% of the total Austrian population) attend Sunday mass[21] in 2012 the most recent year for which the Austrian Catholic church has published key statstics. The Lutheran church also recorded a significant drop in adherents between 2001 and 2011, refer table to the right.

According to the 2010 Eurobarometer Poll,[22] based on a limited sample:

  • 44% of Austrian citizens responded "they believe there is a God".
  • 38% answered "they believe there is some sort of spirit or life force".
  • 12% answered "they do not believe there is any sort of spirit, God, or life force".


Letzehof Buddhist Monastery at Feldkirch, in Vorarlberg.
St Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna.
The Lutheran Christuskirche (Church of Christ) in Salzburg.
A mosque in Telfs.
The Temple of Apollo at Hundstalsee, built by local artists in honour of the Greek god Apollo.


Buddhism is a legally recognized religion in Austria and it is followed by thousands of people. Although still small in absolute numbers (10,402 at the 2001 census), Buddhism enjoys widespread acceptance in Austria. A majority of Buddhists in the country are Austrian nationals (some of them naturalized after immigration from Asia, predominantly from China and Vietnam), while a considerable number of them are foreign nationals.

As in most European countries, different branches and schools of Buddhism are represented by groups of varying sizes. Vienna not only has the largest number of foreign residents, but is also the place with the longest tradition of Buddhism in the country. Most of Austria's Buddhist temples and centres of practice can be found there; some with a specific Chinese, Vietnamese, Tibetan or Japanese appearance. The latest development has been the establishment of a "Buddhist cemetery" around a stupa-like building for funeral ceremonies at the Vienna Central Cemetery.


Roman Catholicism

Roman Catholicism is the largest religion in Austria, representing 62.4% of the population (as per the end of 2013).[16] The Catholic Church's governing body in Austria is the Austrian Conference of Catholic Bishops, made up of the hierarchy of the two archbishops (Wien, Salzburg), the bishops and the abbot of territorial abbey of Wettingen-Mehrerau. Nevertheless each bishop is independent in his own diocese, answerable only to the Pope. The current president of the Conference of Catholic Bishops is Cardinal Christoph Schönborn. Schönborn belongs to the Central European noble family of Schönborn. Although Austria has no primate, the archbishop of Salzburg is titled Primus Germaniae (Primate of Germany).

The organization Call to Disobedience (Aufruf zum Ungehorsam in German) is an Austrian movement mainly composed of dissident Catholic priests which started in 2006. The movement claims the support of the majority of Austrian Catholic priests and favors ordination of women, married and non-celibate priesthood, allowing Holy Communion to remarried divorcees and non-Catholics in contrast to teachings of the Catholic Magisterium.

Orthodox Christianity

[8] or approximately 6% of the total population, thus becoming the second largest Christian church after the Roman Catholics.


Once the second largest Christian religion in the country, Lutheranism in Austria has undergone a sharp decline due to a loss in members, and as of 2013 the 313.289 Lutherans constitute 3.7% of the total population.[5] The Reformed Church in Austria, a Calvinist body, has roughly 13.590 members.


Due to immigration, especially from the Balkans and Turkey, the number of Muslims in Austria has grown exponentially over the latest decades, with Muslims accounting for ~7% of the total population as of 2010, up from 4.2% in 2001.[7]


Austria has seen a growth of Pagan movements in recent years, especially Druidic (Druidentum), but also Germanic Heathen (Heidentum), Wiccan and Witchcraft (Hexentum) groups. As of 2010 Austrian motorway authorities have been hiring Druids for geomantic works intended to reduce the number of accidents on the worst stretches of Austrian speedways.[23][24]

Celtic Neopaganism and Neo-Druids are particularly popular in Austria, by virtue of Austria being the location of the proto-Celtic Hallstatt culture. The Keltendorf in Diex, Kärnten combines archaeological reconstruction with "European geomancy". The Europäisch Keltische Gemeinschaft has been active since 1998.

See also


  1. ^ "Religion in Austria on CIA World Factbook". Retrieved December 13, 2006. 
  2. ^ Kirchenaustritte gingen 2012 um elf Prozent zurück
  3. ^ a b c kathweb Kirchenstatistik, abgerufen am 10. Jänner 2012
  4. ^ Kirchenaustritte 2013 gestiegen 4,8 Prozent mehr Austritte: Zahl der Katholiken um rund ein Prozent geschrumpft
  5. ^ a b c d "Zahlen & Fakten". 2010-12-31. Retrieved 2014-05-01. 
  6. ^ How many Muslims live in Austria
  7. ^ a b Islam in Österreich
  8. ^ a b
  9. ^ "Religion in Austria on CIA World Factbook". Retrieved April 21, 2007. 
  10. ^ a b "Religion in Austria on Sacred Destinations". Retrieved April 21, 2007. 
  11. ^ pdf
  12. ^ Medienreferat der Österreichischen Bischofskonferenz / "Statistics Catholic Church in Austria 2003–2008". Retrieved 25 April 2010. 
  13. ^ "Statistical Data 2001–2008 in German". 31 December 2009. Retrieved 25 April 2010. 
  14. ^ a b c d e Austrian Population 4. Quarter 2009. Retrieved 8 June 2014.
  15. ^ """Bischof Bünker: "Jeder Austritt ist einer zu viel.. 19 January 2010. Retrieved 25 April 2010. 
  16. ^ a b c [1]
  17. ^
  18. ^ "Kirchliche Statistik der Diozösen Österreichs (Katholiken, Pastoraldaten) für das Jahr 2005". Retrieved April 21, 2007. 
  19. ^ "Kirchliche Statistik der Diozösen Österreichs (Katholiken, Pastoraldaten) für das Jahr 2008". Retrieved November 1, 2009. 
  20. ^ title= Kirchliche Statistik der Diozösen Österreichs (Katholiken, Pastoraldaten) für das Jahr 2009 - PDF document
  21. ^ Amtlichen Statistik der Österreichischen Bischofskonferenz für 2012
  22. ^ Eurobarometer Biotechnology report 2010 p.383
  23. ^ Druids cut death toll with divine intervention. The Telegraph.
  24. ^ Motorway druids tackle road accidents. Austrian Times.

Further reading

  • Reingrabner, Gustav (1999), "Austria", in Fahlbusch, Erwin, Encyclopedia of Christianity 1, Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, pp. 168–172,  

External links

  • Religion in Austria on Sacred Destinations
  • Roman Catholic statistics for 2005
  • Eurel: sociological and legal data on religions in Europe
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.