Mass attendance by Catholics resumes downward slide

Gallup Poll: From 2014 to 2017, an average of 39% of Catholics reported attending church in the past seven days, down from an average of 45% from 2005 to 2008

Regina Trovino and Daniela Haddad pray before the opening Mass of the National Prayer Vigil for Life at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington D.C. (CNS photo/Nancy Phelan Wiechec)

Weekly church attendance has declined among U.S. Catholics in the past decade, while it has remained steady among Protestants.

From 2014 to 2017, an average of 39% of Catholics reported attending church in the past seven days. This is down from an average of 45% from 2005 to 2008 and represents a steep decline from 75% in 1955.

By contrast, the 45% of Protestants who reported attending church weekly from 2014 to 2017 is essentially unchanged from a decade ago and is largely consistent with the long-term trend.

As Gallup first reported in 2009, the steepest decline in church attendance among U.S. Catholics occurred between the 1950s and 1970s, when the percentage saying they had attended church in the past seven days fell by more than 20 percentage points. It then fell an average of four points per decade through the mid-1990s before stabilizing in the mid-2000s. Since then, the downward trend has resumed, with the percentage attending in the past week falling another six points in the past decade.

In 1955, practicing Catholics of all age groups largely complied with their faith’s weekly mass obligation. At that time, roughly three in four Catholics, regardless of their age, said they had attended church in the past week. This began to change in the 1960s, however, as young Catholics became increasingly less likely to attend. The decline accelerated through the 1970s and has since continued at a slower pace. (See tables at the end of this article for all trend figures.)

Meanwhile, since 1955, there has also been a slow but steady decline in regular church attendance among older Catholics. This includes declines of 10 points or more in just the past decade among Catholics aged 50 and older, leading to the current situation where no more than 49% of Catholics in any age category report attending church in the past week.

Currently, the rate of weekly church attendance among Protestants and Catholics is similar at most age levels. One exception is among those aged 21 to 29, with Protestants (36%) more likely than Catholics (25%) to say they have attended in the past seven days.

Full story at Gallup News.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    So the so-called “Francis effect” is an illusion?

    • Anonymous says:

      What are you talking about? This article is talking about the Francis effect. It is not an illusion. It is happening now.

      • Anonymous says:

        I thought the Francis effect was that Francis was so cool and merciful and revolutionary and modern that he was bringing loads of people into or back to the Church and keeping young people in the Church. Are you saying the Francis effect has the opposite effect? I’m so confused.

  2. Draw People In says:

    Because American Catholicism continues it’s slump to the right and fights the fresh breath that Francis offers. People want a path to holiness, to seek divine mercy and healing, to ring in the horn of salvation for all people. They are not finding those things in divisive American Catholicism. They get this elsewhere: evangelical protestantism, secular vortexes, in sexual violence and drug use. It’s not enough to rail against the evils of the world yet offer no alternative: we must show them the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a heart that shows us that no matter how often we are wounded we must reach out with compassion to draw us all to Christ, and commune our wounds to His.

    • Steve D. says:

      Slump to the right? LMAO!! Catholics are tired of being scandalized by our lefty bishops. That fresh breath you’re smelling is the smoke of satan.

    • Anonymous says:

      We’ve had the “fresh breath” of leftist interpretation since VII. That, not orthodoxy, is the cancer consuming us.

    • Anonymous says:

      I think it’s the Internet.

    • Draw People In says:

      By slumping to the right, I am referring among other things to the so called “reform of the reform”. It is a backing away from Vatican II. It is a reintroduction of clericalsim as a mode of governance. It is a renunciation of the dialogue with society that Vatican II called us into. It is a faith in Christian orthodoxy rather than in Christ himself. In this divisive American Church, people of good faith and noble lives are chastised as being CINOS and heretics

      • Linda Maria says:

        Christ was ORTHODOX!!! His teachings are hard, and people have human weaknesses! Christ came to help His followers prepare for life in Heaven, with God Himself– NOT to have “dialogues” with secular, non-Catholic society, and try to make non-believers comfortable!! There are many varied views on Vatican II– the Pope and his prelates, are not in accord with ther views, at all, on this Council– someday, there will probably be another one!! The Pope and his priests and prelates, are supposed to be 100% committed to carrying out Christ’s command, to preach and to teach the Gospel everywhere! America is divisive– because America is materialistic and SINFUL!!

        • Draw People In says:

          It is true that Christ was Orthodox, but it is also true that Christ himself was in dialogue with a sinful society. “Who do you say that the son of man is?” was the ultimate invitation to dialogue, wasn’t it? In fact, in the desert he was in dialogue with the Devil himself, wasn’t he? To Thomas, the dialogue took the form of action: “Put your fingers here” which brought the response “My Lord and my God!”. But then you go on to commit calumny and offer division in the Church when you imply that the Pope etc aren’t 100% committed. Can we spend less time creating division and more time drawing people into the Risen Lord? Peace be with you!

          • Linda Maria says:

            Many of Pope Francis’ prelates are at odds with him, especially regarding Catholic teaching on Marriage! You have to view our Pope with maturity! Christ never pretended to “dialogue” with people, on an equal basis, and neither should priests and prelates! They have s big responsibility to teach and uphold our Faith!

          • Linda Maria says:

            Draw People In, we do NOT “commit calumny,” by disagreeing with the Pope, when he seems to be off-track, with Catholic teaching! Instead, we have a big responsibility, to question him publicly, and request clarification! “Amoris Laetitia” is one thing, that he should clarify!

  3. Unfortunately, the Church no longer has the moral influence it enjoyed previously due to the sexual abuse and financial scandals. The decline of the Catholic Church is due, in part, to the arrogance of Church leaders who covered up scandals and paid off people all at great spiritual and emotional costs to parishioners. It will take many years, probably centuries, for the Church to recover.

  4. Anonymous says:

    The Archdiocese of Los Angeles welcomed 1,700 catechumens and 1,127 candidates.
    The Archdiocese of San Francisco welcomed 173 catechumens and 169 candidates.
    In the Diocese of San Diego, 1090 combined. New York, 400 and 468; Galveston-Houston, 1,536 and 618; Atlanta: 708 and 1,280; Seattle, 664 and 429; Hartford, 59 and 55; Philadelphia, 254 and 236; Anchorage, 36 and 32; Washington, 576 and 237; Newark, 416 and 657; Oklahoma City, 239 and 327; Dubuque, 72 and 120; and St. Paul and Minneapolis, 228 and 386.
    Charleston, South Carolina, 155 catechumens and 337 candidates; Dallas, 1,139 and 300; Charlotte, North Carolina, 214 and 401; Venice, Florida, 193 and 205; Baton Rouge, Louisiana, 154 and 194; Portland, Maine, 71 and 62; Albany,…

    • Anonymous says:

      For every 1 that joins 5 or 6 raised in the faith leave. The RCIA numbers are misleading too. It is well-known but seldom discussed that RCIA retention is poor: only 25-50% of RCIA Catholics continue to attend weekly Mass after joining the Church.

  5. The influx of catachumens and candidates is only half the story. How many left, either temporarily or permanently?

  6. (Draw People In says: “Because American Catholicism continues it’s slump to the right and fights the fresh breath that Francis offers.”)

    Uhm – I hate to break this to you, but the Catholic Church in America (and the entire West) has been steamrolling to the Left unabated for the last 60 years – even before Bergoglio was inflicted upon the Chair of Peter. In fact, the inherent institutional Leftism of the Magisterium is precisely *why* a sophist like Bergoglio was selected in the first place.

    And the real reason people are leaving the modern “Katholic” Church is because it no longer offers any sanctuary of Truth to the world’s falsehoods. It simply blends in and “accompanies” the world with its “dialogue” of lies and its…

  7. … “encounter” of self-centered feel-good-ism and its shallow self-serving virtue signalling. Which is precisely why intrinsic evils are now dismissed while politically defined social movements are embraced in this Modern Church of Humanism. And it’s easy to see: The Divinity of The Blessed Sacrament is routinely desecrated and the politically defined “poor” are now worshiped as a human sacrament unto themselves. The class-warfare and destruction of God’s True Justice through the ridiculous man-made definition of equality = sameness of the heretical theology of Liberation Theology is now the only real commandment recognized by this Godless movement. And as a result, the Seamless Garbage of accompaniment has destroyed the necessary…

  8. ……. “seam” of rational intellectual discernment that is vital in recognizing the Objective Morality in this increasingly insane world. Everything is a “Pro-Life issue” in this new heretical movement where every deadly sin is now tolerated in the name of false love and the only “life” that really matters is this temporal one. Because surely Nice Jesus wouldn’t send anyone to Hell. And being “nice” is all that matters.

    May God have Mercy on our poor souls….

    • Draw People In says:

      Thank you Dear Lazarus for proving my point precisely. Catholic infighting is not a pretty sight for those who seek divine work in their own lives, especially when they see lies being told about people we disagree with. This is the Devil’s work. He seeks to turn us against each other. It works because it turns everyone off, even people who might fundamentally agree with us. Please don’t let the Devil work his evil magic in our Church.

    • Anonymous says:

      Perhaps if you don’t believe in global warming and don’t recycle you will go to hell.

    • Bohemond says:

      Lazarus well said my brother, well said

  9. Anonymous says:

    I left California where the local Bishop promotes homosexuality, publicly stated he does not believe Sacred Scripture is historically accurate, allows men “married” to other men to participate in liturgical functions and what seems like a never ending list of scandals. Here, I am free from all the liberal insanity. Deo Gratias!

    • I don’t miss San Jose either.

    • Anonymous says:

      SSPX has no canonical status in the Catholic Church. Pope Francis extended his mercy to those who attend their chapels by giving their priests the faculties to absolve sins. They can perform marriages but a priest from the local Catholic diocese has to be there to accept the consent of the married couple to insure its validity unless the local Catholic bishop has given the SSPX priests the faculties to do that. Their Mass is valid but illicit.
      These are not criticisms. It is just the situation.

      • I will stay with a Bishop that teaches that homosexuality is a vise, not a virtue. (Why was my post edited to remove comments about Saint Marys, KS and the SSPX)???

  10. “Valid but illicit” — so they say, but it still sounds like a hypocrisy-like phrase!

    • Anonymous says:

      It means a validly ordained priest is saying an unauthorized Mass. We should not attend.
      A Mass by a non ordained person or a “woman priest” would be invalid and illicit. We should not attend those either.

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