The Tablet Survey
Blogged by James Preece on 9th August 2008
I'm not a particularly avid reader of The Tablet. They mentioned me once when they were doing an article about Catholic Blogging and I was the only English Catholic Blogger that Kathryn Lively had on her list of Catholic Bloggers. Oh yeah - Before Fr Tim Finigan was, I was. N00b... Sorry, where was I? Oh yeah, The Tablet. I don't read it very often, partly because it hasn't got a feed which means I have to manually go to their website to check for updates (and I barely remember to do that for Strongbad) but mainly, well, because it's full of crap.
Occasionally though, they do something that warrants a mention. Like the survey they recently had done by Cambridge University's Von Hügel Institute. Revealed: The Modern Catholic and Sex and the modern Catholic. These are the surveys that prompted the BBC to declare: Catholics 'ignore rules on sex'.
Goodbye to the confessional. The average Catholic in Britain today has had a Catholic education, staunchly supports Catholic schools, prays daily and attends Mass on Sunday although feels little obligation to do so. But, although the average Catholic receives Communion at nearly every Mass attended, he or she hardly ever goes to confession.
Catholics have a woeful knowledge of the Church. A surprisingly high number of them have never heard of the Second Vatican Council, seemingly unaware of the profound impact in terms of ecclesiology and liturgy that the Council has had on the Church in which they have been raised. And the majority have not heard of Humanae Vitae, the encyclical published 40 years ago this summer that, with its teaching on birth control, caused such a seismic shift in the attitude of many Catholics at the time to the Church and to its authority.
There's a lot to say about this survey. Let's start at the beginning....
I'm mostly interested in the 18-35 age-range. Not because old people don't matter (they most definitely do) but because I think we can see direct links between the way 18-35 catholics are and the state of the Church today. Especially our catechesis, liturgy and Catholic schools.
They asked these questions in Churches. These answers are people who go to Church at least occasionally. The fact, is that 62% of us in the 18-35 range go to mass every week.
Attendance at Mass at least once a week by age:
18-35 36-45 46-65 over 65 62% 67% 84% 92%
62% is pretty poor. It means that if you look around at mass and spot ten people in the 18-35 range, four of them won't be at mass next week.
But, I think this cloud has a silver lining. Because next week if you look around at mass and spot ten people in the 18-35 range, there will be four new ones. Four to replace the four from last week. The four who don't come to mass every week, are actually eight who come every two weeks or maybe even sixteen who come to mass once a month. So when you spot ten people in the 18-35 range, you actually spot as many as twenty-two. There could be as many as 220% more Catholic's in the 18-35 range than a quick headcount at a typical mass suggests. That's pretty hopeful.
This raises a spectacular opportunity. It means you could double the number of 18-35 year olds at a typical mass simply by convincing the four in ten who already occasionally go to mass to go every week. They already go to mass... Though of course, you would need to push the matter four weeks in a row...