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.

10.21.2020

Catholic Vote 2020

An election poll that focuses on Catholics has been hard to come by in 2020. That is until this week. A Real Clear Opinion Research poll, conducted in October of 1,490 Catholics who are likely to vote, provides some interesting insights. The study, commissioned by EWTN, indicates a swing towards Democrat Joe Biden. The vote in 2016 was so close among Catholics it was hard to discern which way they had voted. Polls didn’t agree.


In the current poll, which has a margin of error of ±2.8 percentage points, 48% of likely Catholic voters recall voting for Donald Trump in 2016 and 46% recall voting for Hillary Clinton. In the upcoming 2020 contest, 52% of these likely voters plan on voting for Joe Biden and 40% for Donald Trump. Forty-five percent of respondents self-identify as Democrats and 36% as Republicans. Forty percent of respondents say they are conservatives, 36% liberals, and 24% moderates.

If accurate, these results could be a bad sign for the Trump campaign. The winner of the Catholic vote typically wins a majority of the popular vote, although the Electoral College may result in the candidate with fewer votes nationally winning the presidency. State-level results for the Catholic vote did play an important role in 2016. Trump won the vote of Catholics in Ohio, Michigan, Iowa, and Florida. Trump’s lead among Catholics was a necessity for winning Michigan and Florida—two states he needed to be elected. Both were 1 percentage point races overall and Trump won Catholics in Michigan by 18 percentage points and by 10 percentage points in Florida. According to the Pew Religious Landscape study, 18% of Michigan’s adults are Catholic as are 21% of Florida’s adults. Thus, Trump would not have had the Electoral College votes to win the presidency without the votes of Catholics in Michigan and Florida.

In predicting the 2020 outcome, state polls may be more important than national surveys. There is also the possibility of social desirability bias affecting the polling. Some who may end up voting for Trump may not accurately share this intention with pollsters because they feel like this is socially undesirable in the current political climate. This happens most often when the poll is conducted with a interviewer over the phone or in person. Self-administered surveys tend to minimize social desirability bias. The Real Clear Opinion Research/EWTN study does show some social desirability effects but this is only observable in Mass attendance reports. Thirty-eight percent of respondents report weekly Mass attendance prior to the pandemic. Surveys conducted without interviewers find only about 22% of adult Catholics attends this frequently.

Biden's 12 percentage point lead is large and well outside the margin of error. It appears the Catholic vote may not be as close in 2020 as it has been in other recent presidential elections. 

Some of the other interesting findings from the survey include:

  • When ranking items that are “very important” to them when considering who to vote for President this year, Catholics said the most important is their economic status (47% “very important”) followed by their political party (44%), their community (44%), their race and ethnicity (33%) and then their Catholic faith (32%).
  • Forty-seven percent of Catholics approve of Donald Trump as president and 53% disapprove.
  • Catholics are more approving of Democrats in Congress than Republicans (51% compared to 49%).
  • Catholics top concerns in thinking about their presidential vote include: economy and jobs (73% “a major concern”), coronavirus (68%), healthcare (67%), and civil unrest (53%).
  • More support than oppose the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court (46% compared to 28%).
  • A majority say that Senator Dianne Feinstein’s remark “the dogma lives loudly in you” at Barrett’s 2017 confirmation hearing is “not appropriate” (51%) compared to 26% who felt this was “appropriate” and 23% who said they were “not sure.”
  • More believe practicing Catholic politicians should follow the teachings of  the Catholic Church and oppose abortion than those who believe they shouldn’t (43% compared to 29%). Fifty-nine percent personally believe abortion is morally wrong.
  • Eleven percent believe abortion should never be permitted. Eleven percent believe it should be allowed to save the life of the mother. Thirty-seven percent believe it should be allowed in the case of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother. Eighteen percent believe it should be allowed in the first three months of pregnancy. Seven percent believe it should be allowed in the first six months of pregnancy. Fifteen percent believe it should be allowed at anytime during a pregnancy if a mother wants this.
  • Catholics are supportive of non-violent protests (61% saying these do more good than harm) and are not supportive of protests that turn violent (82% saying these do more harm than good).

Note: If you are a regular reader of this blog you already know that I (CARA researcher Mark Gray) am a political scientist and pollster who is profoundly apolitical. CARA is also an independent non-partisan research center. I am not registered to vote nor will I be. I am neither a Democrat nor a Republican. In political analysis and forecasting I always try to stick solely to the data.

8.06.2020

Some of the Highest COVID-19 Death Rates Are in Majority Catholic Countries

Looking globally at the most recent COVID-19 death rates per 100,000 population in countries with available data, it becomes apparent that some Catholic countries have been hit harder than others. As of yesterday, 17 countries had more than 30 deaths per 100,000 people. More than three in four of these countries have Catholic majority populations (as measured by the Annuarium Statisticum Ecclesiae and Pew Research Center estimates).

The only countries that are not majority Catholic in the 17 hardest hit are the United States (47.93 deaths per 100,000), the United Kingdom, Sweden, and the Netherlands. The latter two countries have not embraced masks and lockdowns as other countries have. The US and UK have reportedly lagged behind other countries that more quickly adopted tracking and tracing. Many other factors are certainly important.  

So what about the cluster of majority Catholic countries with comparatively higher numbers of deaths per 100,000 of their populations? There is one outlier. San Marino, a micro-state surrounded by Italy, has a population of only about 33,785. With 42 deaths its deaths per 100,000 calculates out to 124.32 (the principality of Andorra also has only 77,006 residents). Among the rest of the Catholic countries are states in Europe and Latin America where COVID-19 infections have been among the most widespread.

There is too much to untangle to know why this cluster of Catholic countries has been heavily affected. One would need to control for many other aspects. How old is the population? Are there underlying health conditions like obesity that might factor? Were enough hospitals available and prepared? What are the policies for lock-downs, testing, tracing, and use of masks? How well are people cooperating with these policies?

In the tradition of Max Weber or Émile Durkheim one might hypothesize that some aspect(s) of faith may be involved as well. While I really doubt this, it is the case that Catholic Masses involve a lot of interaction between parishioners and the distribution of Communion involves others touching something people consume (attending large religious services is considered a high risk environment). At the same time, these factors would be present in many non-Catholic religious gatherings. Did something about Catholic culture and the response to the sick or people in need factor in? We just don't know enough to even really generate good hypotheses yet.

It is also far too early to dive deeply into these questions. The pandemic is ongoing and it could just be a coincidence in how the virus has spread around the globe that deaths per 100,000 of a country's population are higher in some Catholic countries than many others. Once sufficient time has passed and we have a better understanding of how the pandemic spread and ended we can control for many of the factors discussed above to more closely examine the impact on majority Catholic countries. Note that nearly three fourths of majority Catholic countries are not in the cluster with more than 30 deaths per 100,000.

Another way to look at the impact is also to analyze case fatality rates, or the percentage of confirmed cases that result in death. However, this is tricky because there are too many differences between countries in testing for good comparable data on confirmed cases to be reliable. Also with so many asymptomatic cases the actual "fatality rate" (this would be measured by the infection fatality ratio, or the proportion of deaths among all infected individuals) is difficult to establish. However, in the data that are available, some of the highest case fatality rates are in majority Catholic countries. These include: Italy (14.1% confirmed cases resulting in fatality), Belgium (13.9%), France (13.3%), Hungary (13.1%), Mexico (10.9%), and Spain (9.3%). The only other countries with similar or higher rates are: Yemen (28.8%), the United Kingdom (15.1%), and the Netherlands (10.9%). The confirmed case fatality rate in the United States is currently 3.3%. The best estimate for the infection fatality ratio in the United States is 0.65%. 

While COVID-19 is something that one might say should be left to doctors and virologists, without an effective vaccine or therapeutic treatment, social scientists become important. The virus is easily transmissible when people are involved in behaviors that bring them into contact with many others indoors. Creating new ways to work, vote, learn, and just live with this reality will also involve the work of economists, political scientists, sociologists, and psychologists. Here at CARA we continue to research how the pandemic is affecting the Catholic Church and how it can best provide what people need to continue to worship and live out their faith.  

7.30.2020

Ministry in the Midst of Pandemic: A Survey of Lesotho Bishops


Click for: Full Report of Findings

Just how badly has the Covid-19 pandemic hit the Lesotho Catholic Church? And after taking such a hard hit financially, how can Lesotho bishops help parishes be “field hospitals” for the sick during a time of so much need?

According to a 2020 CARA survey, Lesotho’s four bishops report that their arch/dioceses, parishes, and Catholic schools have been greatly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, especially in the areas of the celebration of Baptisms, the morale of the lay ecclesial ministers, the ability of Catholic Charities to serve people in need, sacramental preparation, the celebration of First Communions, the celebration of Holy Thursday services, their own morale as the bishops, and the morale of the deacons. A lesser but still substantial proportion of dioceses report being greatly affected in the areas of the morale of the bishops’ staff at the LCBC, the morale of the priests, the morale of the staff at the diocese office, the celebration of Confirmations, the celebration of Marriages, and the celebration of Funerals in their dioceses.

To address these challenges, dioceses have enacted/issued guidelines for pastors and parishes encouraging parishioners to celebrate Mass by listening to radio broadcasts, have temporarily closed one or more Catholic elementary/high schools, and/or have temporarily closed one or more parishes temporarily. Moreover, parishes have been instructed to follow the ordinances of and guidance from the government concerning regulations for the pandemic, adapted the assessments parishes pay to their dioceses, and eliminated or curbed some diocesan programs,

How large of an impact has the pandemic had on Lesotho Catholic dioceses, parishes, and charitable organizations?

In Summer 2020, CARA visiting scholar, Sister Aloysia Makoae and CARA conducted a survey concerning how the Covid-19 pandemic had impacted Lesotho’s four arch/dioceses and their many parishes (Note: a survey of Lesotho parishes is also currently in the process of being conducted). This report provides the findings for the diocesan survey. The four bishops of Lesotho arch/dioceses responded, for an overall response rate of 100%.

Bishops were asked how significantly their dioceses were affected in a number of areas, with their responses summarized in Figures 1 and 2. The orange-portion of the bars below show the percentage of dioceses saying an area was “very affected,” with the blue-portion of the same bars showing those areas “somewhat affected.”

All of the areas displayed in Figure 1 have 75% to 100% of dioceses saying they were “very affected” by the pandemic; each also has more than three in four dioceses saying that area was “somewhat affected” and “very affected” combined. These areas shown in Figure 1 can best be characterized as parish sacramental celebrations, rites, preparation programs, morale at the parish and diocesan levels, and the church’s ability to minister to the needy.



Figure 2 shows those areas relatively less likely to be affected, which include the morale of staff at the LCBC, the morale of priests, the morale of the staff at the dioceses, the celebration of Confirmations, the celebration of Marriages and the celebration of Funerals. Note, however, that even among these areas, three-quarters or more are “somewhat affected” and “very affected” combined.



Examining just the “very affected” percentages in Figure 2, half of the bishops report that the morale of staff at LCBC, the morale of the staff at diocese, and the morale of priests have been strongly affected, with one-fourth saying the celebration of Confirmation, celebration of Marriages and celebration of Funerals have been “very affected.”

How have dioceses responded to the sacramental and financial difficulties posed by the pandemic?

In open-ended questions, bishops were asked to write in how their dioceses have been managing sacramental and financial difficulties. Concerning the sacramental issues facing parishes, bishops are most likely to mention issuing guidelines for pastors and parishes and having granted dispensations to parishioners from their obligation to attend weekly Mass. Most bishops also report having instructed their parishes to follow the ordinances of and guidance from the government and local officials in terms of gatherings (Note: This question was not directly asked on the survey, but was mentioned by many bishops in an open-ended response).

Concerning the financial health of both the diocese and its parishes, bishops wrote in that they are most worried about parishes not having their regular offertory collections, the financial health of parishioner households, paying parish and diocese staff members in the short- and long-run, and whether to cut back or eliminate existing diocesan programs.

Figure 3 below shows the findings for whether dioceses have either taken an action or are in process of deciding whether to take an action.



Four major ways that dioceses have been helping their parishes counter these financial difficulties are temporarily closing one or more Catholic elementary schools, temporarily closing one or more Catholic high schools, encouraging parishioners to celebrate Mass by listening to a radio broadcast, and closing one or more parishes. 

In addition, in a separate open-ended question, half of dioceses wrote in that they have adjusted the percentages that parishes pay to their dioceses in annual assessment fees. The other two dioceses say they have not modified the assessments.

What dioceses have been relatively less likely to consider is also of consequence: reducing the salary of some diocesan staff, eliminating one or more diocesan programs, suspending one or more diocesan programs, and laying off some diocesan staff (50%, 50%, 50%, and 25% respectively, have done so).

What does the future hold?
The pandemic is, of course, an ongoing phenomenon. As Lesotho dioceses take other actions as circumstances change, Sister Makoae and CARA hopes to provide summaries of those challenges and actions as well.

Click for: Full Report of Findings

Written by CARA Visiting Scholar Sr. Aloysia Sebueng Makoae, SNJM, and Jonathon L. Wiggins. Photo courtesy of Andrew Moore.

7.09.2020

Ministry in the Midst of Pandemic: A Survey of U.S. Catholic Bishops


Click for: Full Report of Findings

Just how badly has the Covid-19 pandemic hit the United States Catholic Church? And after taking such a hard hit financially, how can U.S. bishops help parishes be “field hospitals” for the sick during a time of so much need? 

According to a 2020 CARA survey, U.S. bishops report that many arch/dioceses, eparchies, parishes, and Catholic schools have been greatly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, especially in the areas of sacramental celebrations, rites, and preparation; and financially (as estimated in our previous post). A lesser but still substantial proportion of dioceses report being greatly affected in the areas of the morale of parish and diocesan/eparchial personnel and in their Catholic Charities organizations’ abilities to serve those in need. 

To address these challenges, dioceses and eparchies have enacted/issued and/or are considering a wide variety of remedies including: pastoral guidance from bishops about how to provide for sacramental needs while adhering to local and state guidelines and ordinances, helping parishes apply for governmental aid, encouraging parishioners to consider giving to their parishes electronically, offering Catholic schools help with providing distance learning to students, helping parishes host online Masses, adapting the assessments parishes pay to their dioceses, eliminating or curbing diocesan programs, and closing some Catholic schools or parishes. 

How large of an impact has the pandemic had on U.S. Catholic dioceses, eparchies, parishes, and charitable organizations?

In Spring and Summer 2020, CARA conducted a survey concerning how the Covid-19 pandemic had impacted U.S. arch/dioceses, eparchies and parishes.[1] Some 116 bishops of U.S. arch/dioceses and eparchies responded, for an overall response rate of 59%.[2]

Bishops were asked how significantly their dioceses and eparchies were affected in a number of areas, with their responses summarized in Figures 1 and 2. The dark green-portion of the bars below show the percentage of dioceses or eparchies saying an area was “very affected,” with the light green-portion of the same bars showing those areas “somewhat affected.”

 

All of the areas displayed in Figure 1 have at least half of dioceses and eparchies saying they were “very affected” by the pandemic; each also has more than nine in ten dioceses and eparchies saying that area was “somewhat affected” and “very affected” combined. These areas shown in Figure 1 can best be characterized as parish sacramental celebrations, rites, and preparation programs. 

Figure 2 shows those areas relatively less likely to be affected, which include the morale of various chancery and parish personnel as well as the effectiveness of the services of dioceses’ or eparchies’ Catholic Charities organizations. Note, however, that even among these areas more than half are “somewhat affected” and “very affected” combined. 

Examining just the “very affected” percentages in Figure 2, nearly half of bishops report that the morale of deacons and priests have been strongly affected, with about one-fifth saying the morale of lay ecclesial ministers, the bishops themselves, and the chancery staff have been “very affected.” Finally, about a quarter of bishops indicate that their dioceses’ eparchies’ Catholic Charities’ ability to serve those in need have been “very affected.”

How have dioceses and eparchies responded to the sacramental and financial difficulties posed by the pandemic? 

In open-ended questions, bishops were asked to write in how their dioceses and eparchies have been managing sacramental and financial difficulties. Concerning the sacramental issues facing parishes, bishops are most likely to mention issuing guidelines for pastors and parishes and having granted dispensations to parishioners from their obligation to attend weekly Mass. Most bishops also report having instructed their parishes to follow the ordinances of and guidance from federal, state and local officials in terms of gatherings.[3]
 
Concerning the financial health of both the diocese/eparchy and its parishes, bishops wrote in that they are most worried about parishes not having their regular offertory collections, the financial health of parishioner households, paying parish and chancery staff members in the short- and long-run, and whether to cut back or eliminate existing parish and diocesan programs.

Figure 3 below shows the findings for whether dioceses and eparchies have either taken an action or are in process of deciding whether to take an action.


Two major ways that dioceses and eparchies have been helping their parishes counter these financial difficulties are by helping parishes apply to federal and state programs (such as the federal Paycheck Protection Program) and encouraging parishioners to consider electronic giving for their parishes’ offertory collections. In addition, in a separate open-ended question, a majority of dioceses wrote in that they have either adjusted the percentages that parishes pay to their dioceses in annual assessment fees or are in the process of figuring out what kinds of adjustments should be made.

What dioceses and eparchies have been relatively less likely to consider is also of consequence: closing some Catholic elementary schools, high schools, or parishes (45%, 26%, and 26%, respectively, have either done so or are considering doing so).

Finally, bishops were asked how much they have helped parishes and Catholic schools with the technological difficulties they have encountered during the pandemic. Nine in ten say their dioceses or eparchies have “somewhat” (12%) or “very much” (79%) helped their Catholic schools provide distance learning to their students, and more than eight in ten have “somewhat” (22%) or “very much” (62%) helped their parishes provide online Masses for their parishioners.

What does the future hold? 

The pandemic is, of course, an ongoing phenomenon. As dioceses and eparchies take other actions as circumstances change, CARA hopes to provide summaries of those challenges and actions as well. 

Click for: Full Report of Findings

Written by Jonathon L. Wiggins and CARA Visiting Scholar Sr. Aloysia Sebueng Makoae, SNJM. Photo courtesy of Official U.S. Navy Page: MCAS New River Chapel prepares for religious services in Jacksonville, N.C. on June 5, 2020. 


[1] A survey of parishes is also currently in the process of being conducted. CARA is also surveying Catholic young adults nationally about how they have been practicing their faith during the pandemic and how they see themselves practicing in the future once the pandemic is over.
[2] Please note: a complicating factor for these data is that some dioceses responded early on during the pandemic (May 2020) while a few others responded as late as early July 2020. Also, some coastal U.S. dioceses experienced the pandemic before many others in other parts of the country did.
[3] This question was not directly asked on the survey, but was mentioned by many bishops in an open-ended response.

4.23.2020

Parish Giving During the Pandemic

Image courtesy of Dan Keck

The CARA Catholic Poll (CCP) estimates that, overall, 45% of self-identified Catholics in the United States reside in a household that regularly gives to their parish weekly offertory collection. However, this varies by frequency of Mass attendance. Among weekly attenders 92% regularly give. Among those attending less than weekly, but at least once a month, 78% give regularly. Only 20% of those attending Mass a few times a year or less give regularly.

So what is happening now that no one is attending due to the COVID-19 pandemic? No one knows for sure. Based on what we have found in previous polls, many may still give electronically or by mail. Prior to the pandemic, 48% of self-identified Catholics said they most preferred to give in person. Others preferred to give by traditional mail, to donate online, or electronically debit payments. Data from CARA’s National Survey of Catholic Parishes revealed that about half of the responding parishes provided their parishioners with the opportunity to contribute online. Some, stuck at home may now use a method that is not their most preferred. We just can’t know how many.

The other complication is in what the stay at home orders have done to the economy. Many have lost jobs and income. Others may be uncertain about the future and are spending more conservatively. It is a certainty that giving has declined.

To understand what this means it is important to know just how much Catholics gave prior to the pandemic. For two decades Catholics have reported giving about $10 per household per week. Our most recent measure puts this figure at an average of $9.43 per household per week.

As of January 2020, there were 329.1 million residents in the United States. Among adults in 2019, Gallup estimated that 22% self-identify as Catholic. Extrapolating that to the total Catholic population we can assume there are 72.4 million self-identified Catholics in the United States. With an average household size in the U.S. of 2.52 we can estimate there are approximately 28,734,015 Catholic households. Using CARA’s survey data we know that 45% of these include an individual making a household donation to a parish that averages $9.43 per week.

Calculating all of that out we can estimate that Catholic parishes nationally collect $121.9 million per week. Over 52 weeks this results in an annual estimate of giving of $6.340 billion. There are 16,914 parishes in the U.S. so that results in a budget line for average annual giving per parish of $374,867. On an annual basis that is $7,209 per week for the typical parish. This nearly matches responses to a recent CARA national survey where the median total for weekly collections reported by pastors was $7,625.

The first Sunday affected by lockdowns was March 22. As of this upcoming Sunday that will account for six weeks of affected giving. If the pandemic had never occurred the typical parish would have collected an average of $43,254 during those weeks. Perhaps a bit higher as it included Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday that have higher attendance than a typical week. Multiplying out nationally that would have been $731,596,763 for the Catholic Church in the United States as a whole for this period of the year.

Clearly some are still giving. Again, using CARA’s survey data, we know 48% of those who regularly contribute prefer to give in person. Let’s assume none of those people have sought out a new way to donate. That leaves 52% of households still able to give. Yet many have lost jobs. Estimates currently place potential unemployment rates at 13%. Others may still be working but have lost income. It is possible this is being offset by others with resources who know donations are down and are giving more. If we assume that 20% of the 52% who donate by mail or electronically can no longer do so because they have lost jobs and/or income then the number of households who might still be giving would be 5,379,008 (or 318 per parish, on average, compared to 765 in normal times). In many ways this is still a very optimistic estimate as it is also likely some of those with unaffected incomes and employment may still be acting more conservatively given economic uncertainties—even with stimulus money adding a temporary boost.

Multiplying out again that means the typical parish may be receiving $2,999 in giving per week in this very optimistic scenario. Across six weeks that totals $17,994. That is $25,260 less than they would have expected had the pandemic not occurred. That means collections may only be about 42% of what they would have been without a pandemic.

These estimates likely still paint far too rosy of a portrait. Some may not be giving because they assume their parish is closed and doesn’t need the money. But the typical parish must still maintain the facility, pay bills, and likely wishes to pay staff for as long as possible. In normal times a parish with difficulties may need to rely on a diocesan subsidy. But giving to annual appeals, depending on their timing, may also be affected by the conditions created by the pandemic.

CARA research estimates that there are 5.8 paid ministry staff persons per parish that means there are about 98,101 of these employees nationally (Note that this total includes some double counting of individuals as some clergy and lay people are on paid staffs in more than one parish). We’ve previously covered how much these employees are paid in another post. It is the case that Catholic institutions have been able to receive some loans from the Small Business Administration-administered Paycheck Protection Program. This may help fill the gap in lost giving due to stay at home orders.

CARA is currently fielding multiple surveys about how the Church and its members are affected by and dealing with the pandemic. Stay tuned for more soon…

1.15.2020

Welcome Sign Needed?


For as far back as we have data (the 1990s), the Catholic Church in the United States welcomed more than 100,000 adults into the faith each year. Most were Protestants who had already been baptized. Some were unbaptized. More often the former than the later.

Times have changed. In 2017 and 2018 there were likely some empty seats in RCIA programs (i.e., the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, the process that prepares adults to join the faith). In 2018, 93,621 adults joined the Catholic faith. Of these, 61% were received into full communion and confirmed and 39% were baptized and confirmed. Prior to 2006, a larger share of these new entrants were unbaptized before becoming Catholic.


Some of this decline is likely related to declines in marriage and marriages in the Church. As we’ve noted before, more often than not, conversions happen when non-Catholics marry Catholics and choose to become Catholic themselves (this is more likely to happen in dioceses with smaller Catholic population shares). Similarly, we’ve seen fewer infant baptisms in recent years and this is correlated with declining fertility rates in general.

At the same time, this isn’t just about fewer Americans, and presumably Catholics, marrying and having kids. A brief glance at the figure above and one might assume these trends parallel news of the clergy sex abuse crisis in 2002 and the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report in 2018. But the pronounced declines actually occur in 2001, 2007, and 2017. It is also important to note that these adult entries occur for the most part in Spring and the decisions to convert likely happened at least a calendar year prior before entering RCIA.

We know from research on people leaving the Church, that the sex abuse crisis is not a common reason cited for their decision. Yet, it is unclear if this factor affects those who consider becoming Catholic. This would be difficult to study. It would require one to do a survey of non-Catholics asking them if they are considering (or have considered) becoming Catholic. Then one would ask about what they were weighing in their decision. Presumably, because many become Catholic because they marry a Catholic one could do a survey of non-Catholic spouses of Catholics but it would not give us the full picture.

Although the new adult Catholics each year number less than 100,000 it is important to note that this is equivalent to about five new Catholics per parish every year, on average (they also tend to stay Catholic). A diocese typically receives about 450 new adult entrants, on average. The change in the last year has been small. Even still, in 2018 dioceses likely saw about 25 fewer new adult entrants than they did in 2017.

Thanks to Bart Heird for the welcome sign image.

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