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Europeans see churches as central to their cultural heritage

10 April 2024

iStock

NEW research commissioned by the charity Future for Religious Heritage (FRH) suggests that a large majority of European citizens consider church buildings and other sites of religious significance to be crucial to their cultural identity.

The survey, conducted by Savanta last October and published this week, drew responses from 8000 people across eight countries: France, Germany, Greece, Poland, Romania, Spain, Sweden, and the UK.

A total of 77 per cent of those polled said that they though religious heritage was an “integral” part of their country’s culture, and 81 per cent said that they considered its preservation to be important for their community’s present and future.

A similar percentage said that they welcomed proposals to extend the use of religious buildings beyond their original function, either by opening them to tourism (39 per cent) or by using them for other activities that were “respectful and compatible if such activities can finance their maintenance and preservation” (40 per cent).

Only 21 per cent that they should be “solely dedicated to religious practice and events related to religion”.

The president of the FRH, Pilar Bahamonde, said that it was “no surprise at all that European citizens support the cultural and identity value of religious heritage. Generations of European craftsmen, artists, architects, engineers, musicians, and citizens gave their utmost to raise the most outstanding buildings of our villages, towns, and cities over thousands of years.

“Pilgrimage routes that run across the European landscape create an invisible backbone that connects rural and urban citizens, marks spaces and moments of serenity, offers inclusive community encounters, and develops social bonds between pilgrims and locals: nourishing the identity of Europe.”

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