LDS Church in Poland has had long, hard journey

The status of the LDS Church in Poland can best be described as ironic — a start dating back to the late 19th century, but a current membership totaling fewer than 2,000; and the predominance of the Roman Catholic Church allowing a Mormon presence in the then-ommunist country in the 1970s but serving as an obstacle to conversion today.

With the region's ties to Catholicism dating back more than a millennium, it's no wonder a popular refrain is often recited: "To be a Pole is to be a Catholic; and to be a Catholic is to be a Pole."

That national pride and heritage was solidified even more by one Karol Jozef Wojtyla — the native of Wadowice, Poland, is better known as the venerable Pope John Paul II, serving from Oct. 16, 1978, until his death on April 2, 2005.

Deemed one of the most influential leaders of his time, he is seen as instrumental in ending communism not only in his native Poland but throughout Europe.

With an estimated 90 percent of Poles considering themselves Catholic, Poland is the most devout country in ever-more-secularist Europe. It is a God-fearing, family-oriented, Sabbath-observing nation — but a tough Catholic shell to crack for other religions, including The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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