Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

"Strong" Catholics in America on the decline

The Pew Forum reports that "the percentage of U.S. Catholics who consider themselves 'strong' members of the Roman Catholic Church has never been lower than it was in 2012."  The number, according to Pew's analysis of the General Social Survey, is 27% (even lower than the number for "mainline Protestants"). A bit:

"[O]ver the past four decades, self-reported church attendance has declined among 'strong' Catholics as well as among Catholics overall. The share of all Catholics who say they attend Mass at least once a week has dropped from 47% in 1974 to 24% in 2012; among 'strong' Catholics, it has fallen more than 30 points, from 85% in 1974 to 53% last year." 

Time for some evangelization!


Garnett, Rick | Permalink


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As Christ stated, salt that loses its taste is worthless...so it seems there is only one type of Catholic...the minority of baptized Catholics that actually practice the Faith.

Posted by: Chris in Maryland | Mar 13, 2013 10:50:47 PM

I realize there are not many data points, but it seems to me that a reasonable explanation of the drop since 2010 is that the hierarchy's emphasis for the past eighteen months or so on defining Catholics as an oppressed people standing in contradiction to certain identified political and social currents made a lot of people realize they did not conform to those definitions and therefore could not be "strong Catholics." I myself thought I was a strong Catholic at some time in the past but my inability to do anything but roll my eyes at the Fortnight of Freedom (despite the eloquent arguments here and elsewhere that those behind it should be taken seriously) and suspicion that perhaps the Nuns on the Bus had the better of certain arguments have been convincing me otherwise.

Posted by: Sykes Five | Mar 14, 2013 9:37:22 AM

My question is what does it mean to say one is a "strong" Catholic? It is not clear to me from the link that the question comes with a definition of terms, so I'm guessing people are answering that question based on any number of ideas of what it means to be a "strong" Catholic.

Posted by: Susan Stabile | Mar 14, 2013 9:50:50 AM

Since it is true that being in communion with Christ's Church is not a matter of degree (Catholic Canon 750) a Catholic is one who does not believe that being Catholic is about being part of a culture, but rather to be Catholic, is to be part of The Body of Christ, and thus through the unity of The Holy Spirit, being in communion with Christ and His One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.

Posted by: N.D. | Mar 14, 2013 10:17:47 AM

CCL, can. 750 says nothing about "being in [or out of] communion". Rather, it is can. 751 which, in its discussion of heresy, apostasy and schism turns the spotlight on communion (and its absence).

In fact, can.205 (following Lumen gentium, n.14) spells out what constitutes "full communion", implying that there are indeed degrees of communion - as we might expect to be the case.

Both Lumen gentium (ibid.) and Apostolicam actuositatem (n.2) contain severe warnings for those who are Catholic "in name only", but even these (for all that they are in breach of the basic obligation adumbrated by can. 209 ยง2) might be said to be in communion - even if only vestigially. Bonds, by their nature, can be strong or weak.

Even an excommunicated person still remains a Catholic!

As for the poll, I cannot speak for the US, but the more usual term in England for what "strong Catholic" seems to be groping at is "staunch", or "devout".

Posted by: Bain Wellington | Mar 16, 2013 5:03:02 PM