The demographics of church participation are shifting.

The demographics of church participation are shifting.

In these USA…

The numbers of active priests will drop, impacting the number of parishes open.  The number of millennials going to church will drop, thus impacting parish income.  The number of conservative and traditional priests will rise, percentage wise, in presbyterates, thus impacting liturgy, preaching, and identity.  The number of children being born to practicing Catholics will outstrip those being born to liberals.   The number of conservative or traditional bishops being appointed will probably drop, thus creating a slowly growing identity rift between faithful and their local chief pastors.

Meanwhile, I saw this tweet:

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Our Catholic Identity, The Coming Storm, The future and our choices and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. mepoindexter says:

    Our diocese just appointed our EF priest as full-time “Diocesian Administrator for the Extraordinary Form”.

    For us this could be described as “Good news” to say the least, especially as the requests for the Latin mass continue to grow in our diocese.

    The fine folks at our Chancery office aren’t exactly friends of the Latin mass, BUT they at least have the astuteness and willingness to deal with things pastorally.

    It will definitely help bridge the “identity rift” as time goes on.

    It’s nice when everyone gets along.

  2. Pingback: MONDAY AFTERNOON EDITION – Big Pulpit

  3. Ms. M-S says:

    This post brought to mind the image of pruning in a vineyard to encourage the fruitful branches. If you want to see (and hear) the future of the Church, go to a TLM.

  4. dbf223 says:

    “The number of conservative or traditional bishops being appointed will probably drop, thus creating a slowly growing identity rift between faithful and their local chief pastors.”

    At some point, doesn’t the pool of candidates for bishops have to grow more conservative/traditional? Where are the liberal priests of the future going to come from, if the seminarians and young priests are becoming more traditional? This may be a few years behind the other shifts in the demographics, but I can’t imagine a future (i.e. twenty years or more from now) when the bishops are more liberal than they are now, while the laity are more traditional.

    Another point above – “The number of children being born to practicing Catholics will outstrip those being born to liberals.” I think this point is obviously true. Among my family and close friends, those who are committed Catholics are having children, and those who are “liberal” are not practicing, not having large families, and often not even having their kids baptized. As the Church has created more and more lay pastoral positions (i.e. all the DRE and other positions filled by laity, at both the parish and diocesan levels) – doesn’t the pool of applicants for these positions gradually become more conservative/traditional?

    How will dioceses operate if the priests, staff, and laity are becoming more traditional, but the bishops (chosen by committees far from the diocese) are becoming more liberal? Seems like a perfect recipe for turning the role of bishop into a role that is nominally central but functionally symbolic, wherein much of the dynamic work of the Church will be done through lay organizations increasingly detached from the bishop.

  5. Joy65 says:

    Praying for the future of our Catholic Church that ALL Priests will be good, holy devout and be serving God and Neighbor not themselves. As I always do daily praying for ALL Priests, Religious Brothers and Sisters, Deacons, Seminarians, our Pope, Bishops, Cardinals and all discerning vocations to the Priesthood or Consecrated Religious life. Also for all active participating Catholics, all fallen away Catholics, all lukewarm Catholics, all who belong or serve in the Catholic Church in any way and especially for those who are converting to the Catholic Faith welcome Home!

    Our Father
    Hail Mary
    Glory Be

  6. hwriggles4 says:

    Here’s another thing too, and good priests notice this:

    Catholic marriages are down considerably. Dioceses often keep statistics on this. Here are a few observations as to why:

    1. People aren’t dating as much anymore. It’s more culturally related.

    2. Many Catholics, even those who attend Mass weekly, don’t want to wait 8 months (or more) to get married. The time depends on parish, priest, diocesan guidelines, personal situation such as a previous marriage, etc.

    3. Some argue the cost, and opt to have a civil wedding. Oftentimes, like point No. 2, this is an excuse, and I have heard that some priests find this OK if they have a Catholic wedding or a convalidation at a later date. I do recall at least one friend getting advice from a priest nearly 30 years ago to have a civil wedding because his girlfriend was pregnant. The priest basically told them if there marriage survived a few years they could then have a church wedding.

    4. Many couples today, even some older couples, are cohabitating, and look at marriage as a piece of paper. I know some good priests advise couples to separate (it’s a way of practicing self control) but it seems others don’t care. I have heard from some of my Protestant brethren that several Protestant ministers have been advising cohabitating couples to separate for a period of time prior to the wedding day.

    5. Couples are marrying later. Today the average age for a first time marriage is 30 for a man and 27 for a woman. I attended a wedding in April and my buddy married for the first time at 38. It seems 35 is the new 25, and many of my Catholic friends married between 33 and 41. Most are still married to the same person today.

    In short, those who marry in the Catholic Church will be fewer in number, and God willing, these marriages will be stronger. During the pontificate of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, there were often quotes of a smaller Church, but a stronger Church.

  7. JesusFreak84 says:

    How much of the leftwing bend on Bishops staying around longer has to do with what type of man WANTS that kind of power? I know that, for most of the traditional priests I’ve seen, the idea of leaving parish life and becoming an administrator would probably be a form of torture ^.^;;;

    I also just look at guys like our Cardinal-Archbishop here and think that, if they had an ounce of spiritual honesty, they’d be Protestants, but they couldn’t change religions without losing the power they’ve worked for for so long, so they’d rather stay and be Princes of the Church they no longer believe in, if they ever believed to begin with.

  8. TonyO says:

    The number of children being born to practicing Catholics will outstrip those being born to liberals.

    True. But not as telling a point as we could wish: it is not only the family you are born into, but also the raising of the child, that helps determine whether they grow up as a practicing, orthodox (i.e. “conservative”) Catholic. And kids who are put into many of the “catholic” schools are being trained to become good little liberal Catholics even if their parents are good conservatives. Just as in the secular (and therefore liberal) schools, the liberal so-called “catholic” schools that are not explicitly conservative and orthodox are training up little Che Guevaras and Hans Kungs. Even if the kid comes from a strong Catholic family. I have seen it over and over.

    Parents: pay attention to your local “catholic” school. If they don’t have nuns, that’s an indicator. If the teachers are not all practicing, orthodox Catholics, that’s an important sign. (Yes, even the math and Phys. Ed. teachers – kids look up to teachers and want to learn from them, more than just the book lessons; or at least your kids are absorbing what is considered “acceptable” as an adult Catholic.) If the principal or vice-principal is constantly looking for edgy and “new” ways to present the faith, that’s a very serious sign: heterodoxy replaced orthodoxy in Catholic schools in the 1960’s under the cover of “new” ways of teaching. (The Baltimore Catechism is a fine tool, even if it needs supplementing.) If they teach kids to sing traditional music (especially, chant), that’s a very good sign, but if they keep pushing liturgical tomfoolery like girl-altar-boys and garage bands playing Christian rock for Mass, run the other way as fast as you can.

    And if you can’t manage to find or afford a brick-and-mortar truly Catholic school, then there is the Catholic home school, which will be just as Catholic as you can make it.

  9. JustaSinner says:

    Christ’s Will, will prevail. Will there be sacrifice, pain and suffering? Of course; are we not called to emulate Him? His suffering on Calvary foreshadows our suffering for not following Him properly. But in the end, Thy will be done.

  10. chantgirl says:

    TonyO- Most couples who follow the Church’s moral code and are open to life find that they cannot afford Catholic school tuition for their children anyway, especially if the mother stays home. For it to be feasible for couples to send their kids to Catholic schools, it usually necessitates both parents working, and that only works if they have a few children. Paying for childcare for a large group of children costs more than most mothers could make going back to work.

    High Catholic school tuition, and lack of solid Catholic teaching in schools, force many faithful families away. These two factors are driving the decline of Catholic schools, and the growth of Catholic homeschooling. High tuition rates probably also tempt couples to contracept, so that they can continue to send their kids to school. Where is the social justice in driving parents to contracept and mothers to work outside the home just so that their kids can attend a Catholic school?

    A couple hundred years ago, nuns came to my city to teach the indigenous children for free. Now, that same order of nuns teach only the children of the very wealthy; their school’s tuition is astronomical. A church for the poor indeed!

    The whole situation angers me, because the Church is losing its chance to form the next generation of Catholics, but perhaps it is also God’s mercy that some children are being spared the heretical teachings they would get in many Catholic schools.

Comments are closed.