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Survey of religious beliefs is bad news for Catholics April 26, 2010

Posted by Tantumblogo in Basics, General Catholic.

The Rasmussen polling organization has conducted a survey of the religious attitudes of Americans.  The survey results are interesting.  80% of Americans feel that religious faith is at least somewhat important in their lives – which is good, but a decrease over previous surveys.  18% of Americans now feel that religious faith is not at all or not very important to them. 

57% of Americans say that their religious faith is very important in their daily living.  Breaking this down, 82% of evangelicals describe their faith this way, while 65% of general protestants do the same, 46% of Catholics, and 37% of those of other beliefs.  63% of adults say they pray every day. 

What are we, as Catholics, to make of this?  How is it that, of believers in the Faith that Christ established, that possesses the fullness of Truth and is the best vehicle for salvation, only 46% of Catholics say their faith is important in their daily lives?  And how does this square with the fact that only 15-20% of Catholics attend Mass every Sunday? 

Apparently, there are a significant number of Catholics who don’t take their Faith terribly seriously, by their own admission.  I would very much like to see further analysis done on this, to determine why it is that so many Catholics do not take their faith seriously.  My guess is that it primarily comes down to poor formation, and a poor sense of Catholic identity.  Catholics simply do not know their faith well enough to appreciate the immense, endlessly rich treasury that is the Catholic faith.  I think the loss of the sense of Authority and Truth in the Church, especially in developed countries, is also a substantial factor.  There is absolutely no reason that as many or more Catholics should feel their faith is as important as do evangelical protestants.  There have been many negative trends in the Church in the last 40 years or so, but this is the worst.  Huge numbers of Catholics have, for all practical purposes, lost their faith.

The fact that 46% of Catholics claim their faith is very important in their lives, but that 2/3 of that number can’t be bothered to celebrate Mass every week illustrates that, even among those who possess some sense of faith, they have not been sufficiently well formed to understand why celebrating Mass is not a burden but an incalculably great gift. 

What is amazing to me is that, even as many of the mainline protestant Churches seemingly fall apart, their membership expresses a greater sense of faith than most Catholics.  Perhaps the Catholic Church is in much worse shape than I thought. 

How do we address this?  Well, for one, we can start by insisting that homilies briefly expanding on the readings become more challenging and explain how Scripture relates to our faith.  This includes regular discourse on those ‘difficult’ subjects that so many priests and bishops avoid – abortion, contraception, divorce, the all-male priesthood, and the recognition of active homosexuality as disordered and a grave sin. 

We can start insisting on better formation in our schools, in our CCD programs, and most of all, in our homes.  We must insist that all catechists meet very high standards and do not harbor doubts (or, even worse, heresy) about certain aspects of Catholic dogma.  We must insist on more beautiful and transcendant churches.  We must support and encourage our priests to add more distinctive elements to Catholic worship, from adhering strictly to the rubrics of Mass to other practices that strengthen Catholic identity such as regular, 24 hour Adoration, devotions, novenas, Eucharistic and Marian processions, etc. 

And, we can all pray, much more.  We must pray for our Church and for those who have lost their way.  We must pray for our priests that they will be inspired to provide solid catechesis at every Mass and will resist those who like to mix in elements of other faiths into our Catholic faith (i.e.,  Joyce Rupp).  And we must pray for a great return of Authority and Truth in God’s Church, and no more of this soft sentimality masquerading as ‘charity.’  There are places in the Church, in this country, that are experiencing growth in attendance, growth in giving, growth in vocations, all the things that indicate a great surge in Faith.  That those places are almost invariably orthodox in nature is a way God has of communicating to His Church.  The Truth will always win out.

But, we must pray for the souls of those who either never learned, or no longer believe, that Truth that is present in the Catholic Church.  We must pray for their conversion, and we must pray for ourselves that we will remain instruments of God’s Will.


1. Analog Kid - April 27, 2010

Better get used to these stats. They will get worse. The Catholic church is waning. It’s days are numbered. I don’t think I need to remind you of the main reason for this. Another reason is that out of those 15 to 20 percent that actually attend church, the majority of those are elderly. Once these “old faithfuls” die off, there will be no one left in the pews.

tantamergo - April 27, 2010

The Catholic Church will never go away, in spite of the most fervent wishes of alot of people. The Church has suffered worse episodes in the past. I would not be surprised if the Church became significantly smaller – at least, the Church that actively practices the Faith and remains in allegiance to the Holy Father. I would not be surprised to see alternative catholyc churches form, churches that are heretical and seek accomodation with the world.

There is actually a great renewal occuring in the Church, although it is generally not seen by those outside the Church, and is even invisible to many inside it. There are many young people in the pews, and they tend to be far more orthodox than some of the preceding generations. The only parish that offers Extraordinary Form Mass in this diocese is filled to capacity every Sunday. Another parish that celebrates the Novus Ordo Mass in a very reverent and faithful manner is also full every Sunday, in spite of being an hours drive or more from most of the population of the diocese.

Nice try, but fail. The Roman Catholic Church may suffer, it may shrink, but it will emerge stronger and playing a more central role in the lives of the faithful in the future.

LarryD - April 27, 2010

Better get used to these stats. They will get worse.

Pshaw. What do stats have to do with the truths as handed down from the Apostles, who received them from Christ? Absolutely nothing.

The Catholic Church is waning

In some places of the world, it’s influence is certainly trending down. In others, it is ascending. Overall, the number of Catholics worldwide year to year is increasing.

It’s days are numbered.

So are yours. And I bet yours (and mine) will be up long before the Church’s, because the Church will be around until Christ’s second coming.

I don’t think I need to remind you of the main reason for this.

What, the sex abuse scandal? The Church has survived numerous persecutions by Roman Emperors; schisms and heresies; the Protestant Reformation and numerous scandals in the past. This present scandal, while unfortunate, disheartening and utterly terrible, will not bring down the Church. Not even close.

Another reason is that out of those 15 to 20 percent that actually attend church, the majority of those are elderly. Once these “old faithfuls” die off, there will be no one left in the pews.

What tantamergo said. Faithful younger Catholics are having larger families, while the contracepting ones are not. Guess which ones will be filling the pews for years to come.

Your comment is full of wishful thinking, AK. Anyone can cheer for the Church’s demise and join in the ridicule. That takes zero courage or displays poor character.

LarryD - April 27, 2010

Sorry – last line should say “That takes zero courage AND displays poor character.”

2. analog kid - April 27, 2010

Wishful thinking? Your predictions for the future of the Catholic church are wishful thinking. So there’s a lot of Mexican Catholics. So what. Perhaps that’s why the Catholic church is against condoms. Wouldn’t want to continue losing donators. Both of you should be ashamed to be Catholic. The Vatican is the one showing zero courage and poor character.

LarryD - April 27, 2010

My “predictions’ for the Catholic Church are based on the words of Jesus Christ, not mere wishful thinking. Sorry to burst your bubble, but the Catholic Church will always be around – as long as there are sinners in the world, there will always be the Church. There’s no guarantee that the Church will survive in America – it was forced to go underground in nations around the globe many times in history – but it won’t ever be wiped off the face of the earth. In fact, the more persecuted the Church becomes, the stronger and larger it grows.

Why should I be ashamed of being Catholic, when it’s necessary for salvation? The sins of its members – even the crimes of its priests – do not change the truth that it is through the sacraments we receive the grace necessary for salvation, and to stand strong in our faith. I’m ashamed when I sin – but that’s about the extent of it. I hope to never apostatize from the Church founded by Jesus Christ.

So there’s a lot of Mexican Catholics. So what.

That just goes to show the universality of the Church. There are a lot of African Catholics, Asian Catholics, Catholics from every nationality and race. Are you saying the Church only ought to be white?

Perhaps that’s why the Catholic church is against condoms

Perhaps you should take the time to educate yourself as to why the church prohibits artificial contraception, instead of repeating vacuous claims. If you keep an open mind, you might be surprised – doing so would show courage and character.

tantamergo - April 27, 2010

All I’m reading is a bunch of reflexive, unthinking anti-Catholic stereotypes, and poor ones at that. I don’t see any reason, just blind bigotry.

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