The popularity of Pope Francis, who became pontiff in March, has failed to draw more U.S. Catholics to attend Mass, according to a Pew Research Center poll released on Monday.
While media reports indicate a significant rise in church attendance in some European countries in recent months, the United States saw a slight decrease in Mass attendance since April compared with last year, the survey found.
Since April, 39 percent of U.S. Catholics report attending mass at least once a week, compared with 40 percent of American Catholics who reported that level of attendance last year, according to the Pew Research Center survey.
In the first eight months of Francis’ pontificate, 22 percent of Americans identified as Catholic — the same figure from the corresponding months the year before, the poll said.
The Pew Research Center said its sample size for the survey on church attendance was 7,506.
From the Pew Report:
In the United States, home to the world’s fourth-largest Catholic population, the pope appears to be well-liked by Catholics and non-Catholics alike, rated favorably by 79% of Catholics and 58% of the general public.
But has the pope’s popularity produced a Catholic resurgence in the U.S., where 10% of adults are former Catholics? Not so far, at least in terms of the share of Americans who identify as such, or the share of those who report attending Mass weekly.
A new analysis of pooled Pew Research surveys conducted between Francis’ election in March and the end of October this year finds that the percentage of Americans who identify as Catholics has remained the same – 22% — as it was during the corresponding seven-month period in 2012. In fact, our polls going back to 2007 show Catholic identification in the U.S. has held stable, fluctuating only between 22% and 23%.
Though Americans may report attending church more frequently than they actually do, our surveys find that self-reported levels of Mass attendance have remained virtually unchanged since the new pope was elected. Since April of this year, 39% of U.S. Catholics report attending Mass at least weekly, similar to the 40% attendance figure last year.