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.


Focus on Philly

Denver Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap. has been appointed to succeed Cardinal Justin Rigali of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Archbishop Chaput will be coming to an Archdiocese that has a wealth of data on the Catholic population within its borders. Dr. Robert J. Miller, Director of the Archdiocesan Office for Research and Planning, is simply one of the best data people working in service to the Church today. There are few other arch/dioceses that do such a thorough job collecting data for planning and making this available to the community (from which we draw on to show the trends below).

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia, like many other northeastern arch/dioceses that include a large urban area, has experienced declines in the number of registered Catholics and in Mass attendance in recent years. Yet the changes in Philadelphia have been modest in the short-term. In the last five years, the number of registered Catholics has declined by 3.7% with 44,000 fewer registered in 2010 than in 2006. This does not necessarily mean there are fewer Catholics in the Archdiocese (e.g., the Archdiocese reports a total of 1,316,220 Catholics—registered and non-registered—in the 2011 Official Catholic Directory). In CARA’s national surveys we have seen a drop in recent years in the percentage of Catholics choosing to register with a parish. Many of the 'unregistered' still self-identify as Catholic and have some activity in parish life.

The rate of Mass attendance at Saturday Vigil and Sunday Masses in the Archdiocese has dropped by -2.1 percentage points from 2006 to 2010, with 36,207 fewer attenders in 2010 than in 2006.

Trends in sacramental and other devotional activity in the Archdiocese mirrors national patterns with slight drops in the number of baptisms, marriages, and funerals celebrated in the Church. In 2006, there were 10.7 baptisms of minors, 3.7 marriages in the Church, and 9.6 funerals celebrated for every 1,000 registered Catholics in the Archdiocese. By comparison, in 2010, there were 9.4 baptisms of minors, 3.3 marriages in the Church, and 9.2 funerals celebrated per 1,000 registered Catholics.

One of the biggest opportunities for Archbishop Chaput is in strengthening ties between Hispanics in the Archdiocese and the Church. Even as the number of registered Catholics has dropped, according to U.S. Census data 72% of overall population growth (Catholic and non-Catholic) in the Archdiocese in the last decade has been among Hispanics. CARA surveys indicate that Hispanic Catholics are generally less likely than other Catholics to register with their parish and most Hispanics in the United States self-identify as Catholic.

Archbishop Chaput will be moving from the 38th largest arch/diocese (as measured by Catholic population) to the ninth largest. Yet these two archdioceses are coming closer in the population rankings over time. In the last decade, the Catholic population of the Archdiocese of Denver grew by 45 percent, while it declined by 8 percent in Philadelphia.

The number of individuals in formation for the clergy or religious life in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia has been relatively stable in recent years. Currently there are more than 200 people in formation. The largest numbers are men preparing to be priests (97) and men preparing to be permanent deacons (70). 

There are a few other important aspects of the Catholic faith that have also shown growth in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in the last five years, including the number of child baptisms from ages 1 to 6 (+1%), students enrolled in Catholic high schools (+15%), the number of adult Catechumens (+9%), and the number of people participating in Eucharistic Adoration (+18% since 2007).

Above photo courtesy of Steve and Sara at Flickr Creative Commons.

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