Nineteen Sixty-four is a research blog for the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University edited by Mark M. Gray. CARA is a non-profit research center that conducts social scientific studies about the Catholic Church. Founded in 1964, CARA has three major dimensions to its mission: to increase the Catholic Church's self understanding; to serve the applied research needs of Church decision-makers; and to advance scholarly research on religion, particularly Catholicism. Follow CARA on Twitter at: caracatholic.

8.24.2011

Research Notes...

Numbers of New Catholics Continue to Fall
In a previous post, we noted that infant baptisms have been declining year-to-year (as reported in The Official Catholic Directory; where the publication year represents totals for the year prior, e.g., the 2011 edition includes totals for 2010). We've also noted these are generally moving in step with the overall fertility rate, which has also been falling (more so since the recession in 2008). In each of the past three years the number of people entering the faith (of any age) has dropped below 1 million. Since 1947, during only one other period, from 1973 to 1979, did the annual number of new U.S. Catholics number less than 1 million.


Generally, the numbers entering the Catholic Church are nearly sufficient to keep up with the number of Catholics who pass away each year (of course each year some leave the faith, some come back after already having left, and additions occur from immigration of Catholics from other countries as well). However, this may not always be the case if current trends continue. Not only are infant baptisms in decline so are entries into the faith among children, teens, and adults. These had been steadily increasing from 1997 to 2000 and reached a historic peak of 172,581 in 2000. Then something happened...


In just one year, from 2000 to 2001, the number of these non-infant entries into the Church fell by more than 20,000 (down 12.6%). This drop predates the emergence of news of clergy sex abuse cases. In fact the number of entries into the Church increased from 2001 to 2002 when these stories emerged in the media. From 2002 the number of new non-infant entries stabilized until 2006 and 2007 where another steep decline occurred. There were more than 28,000 fewer non-infant entries into the Church in 2007 than in 2005 (down 19.2%). Since then, the decline has flattened out a bit but still continues through to the numbers for 2010. 

I am not sure how to explain the trends in the figures above in terms of causal events. But the shifts are significant and beyond random fluctuations (the average year-to-year change in non-infant entries since 1944 has been 1.0%).

Catholic and Protestant Parish Ministry Wages are Comparable
A companion piece to the CARA research released in the Emerging Models project's The Changing Face of U.S. Catholic Parishes is the National Association of Church Personnel Administrators report, Pay & Benefits Survey of Catholic Parishes, 2011 Edition using the same Emerging Models survey data. One of many interesting findings is how similar wages and salaries are for Catholic parish ministers and those working in similar capacities in Protestant churches in the United States.


The Protestant data used by NACPA are from Protestant: 2010 Church Staff Compensation Survey (Christianity Today International). The full NACPA report includes Catholic ministry pay data for 60 different parish ministry positions by region, parish budget, size of parish offertory, parish staff size, number of registered families at parishes, and by parish Mass attendance. The report can be purchased from the NACPA website.

Online Interest in All Things Catholic
Recently we wrote a post on an indicator of possible declining interest in Catholicism online. We now provide at the bottom of this blog, as well as on CARA's Frequently Requested Statistics, active tracking of U.S. Google search volumes for anything including the word Catholic. These can be compared to search volumes for religious and spiritual content in general. The figure automatically updates with new data. To see an expanded report just follow the "View full report in Google Insights for Search" link.

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