Tuesday, February 26, 2008

U.S. Catholicism in Decline

A new survey has just been released by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. Entitled the U.S. Religious Landscape Survey, it is a compilation of telephone interviews with over 35,000 adults conducted between May and August of last year.

There is an awful lot of data to digest here (the online report is in excess of 140 pages) but at first glance it is evident that the Catholic Church in the United States has some serious problems with which to contend. A quick scan of the report turned up the following:

--- While nearly one-in-three Americans (31%) were raised in the Catholic faith, today fewer than one-in-four (24%) describe themselves as Catholic (page 6).

--- Approximately one-third of the survey respondents who say they were raised Catholic no longer describe themselves as Catholic (page 7).

--- Roughly 10% of all Americans are former Catholics (page 7), while only 2,6% of all Americans are converts to Catholicism (page 25).

--- Catholicism has lost more people to other religions or to no religion at all than any other single religious group (page 19).

--- Of those claiming no church affiliation, 27% were raised Catholic (page 29).

--- 26% of Jehovah's Witnesses were raised Catholic (page 29).

--- 11% of Evangelical Protestants were raised Catholic (page 29).

If there is anyone left who still doubts the effects of the abysmal Catholic catechesis that was standard fare in far too many dioceses for far too many years, this report should make them believers.

It should also point to the need to make Catholic school education the highest priority in every diocese, including the Diocese of Rochester. If there is even one child who wants a Catholic education and cannot get it as the result of his closing 13 Catholic schools, our bishop should be more than ashamed. He should be down on his knees begging the Lord for forgiveness.

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