The Decline of Catholicism in the US

Sad news to me as an admirer of Catholicism. (Not to mention someone born & bred in Boston. What would Boston be without kids going to CCD after school?)

Religion News: Catholics Lose More Faithful Than Any Other Group

In the marketplace of American faith, Catholicism is the big loser.

Catholics have lost more members to other faiths, or to no faith at all, than any other U.S. religion, according to the new survey released by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.

The survey, based on interviews with 35,000 U.S. adults, found that 31 percent of Americans were raised Catholic, but only 24 percent still identify as Catholic.

Perhaps more worrisome for church leaders, while 2.6 percent of Americans converted to Catholicism, four times as many — 10.1 percent — of cradle Catholics have left for another faith or no faith at all. Roughly 10 percent of all Americans are former Catholics, the study reported.

Speaking of Boston’s Catholic roots, it’s interesting to see that an important new book on this trend–The Faithful Departed: The Collapse of Boston’s Catholic Culture by Philip F. Lawler–focuses on good old Beantown.

  • Timothy

    >”The Decline of Catholicism in the US”
    You do realize that Catholicism is not declining in the U.S., don’t you? Catholicism has been increasing in the U.S. year after year for over 200 years. Catholicism is currently growing at about 1.1 million/year in the U.S. and by 16 million /year worldwide. Keep in mind American Catholics are the minority of the Church at about 4-5%.

  • Lawrence of Arabia

    as a convert to Catholicism, i have to say, we have not done ourselves any favors lately. the hierarchy has lost a great deal of legitimacy because of the sexual scandals that continue to financially ruin dioceses across the country (we can look at boston here again, where the diocese dumped diocesan property cheap to boston college recently)…all the while pushing a program of sexual ethics that seems suspect to most americans.
    on the other hand, timothy is right. catholicism is growing, mostly through immigration from mexico and south america and catholics could easily surpass protestants in the not so distant future. meanwhile, while the situation in south america seems vibrant compared to the u.s. (vocations to the priesthood and religious life are still thriving for instance), cathoilcism is certainly facing a big challenge from pentecostal movements there, and is gradually losing the total cultural hegemony that it once had there.
    best wishes,

  • Tus

    I’m a Catholic from Ohio, and while this of course is a small sample, I can see the effects in my little area of the country. When I was a kid, the masses in my town and tri-county area were packed and the priests were usually pretty on the mark in their homilies. Over the last few years things just haven’t seemed the same. I agree with the above comment about the loss of faith with the heirarchy etc.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I, myself, am a Catholic admirer of Islam. I quite honestly feel more at home in a Mosque than in some other Christian churches and have been greatly moved by the devout faith of my Muslim friends. I hope to feel that way again someday!