I keep hearing that the Church is declining in numbers, but every year I see that the number of Catholics in this country is growing. Which is it, are we going up or down?
To understand the numbers, it is helpful to make a distinction between nominal and practicing Catholics. Nominal Catholics are those who call themselves Catholic, but are not practicing or living the faith in any real sense. This number, is going up as our population continues to grow. And that growth is mainly from immigrants, the majority of whom are at least nominally Catholic. Thus the overall number of Catholics is growing.
But to be a nominal Catholic is not necessarily to be a practicing Catholic. And, though here in America, the overall number of Catholics is growing, the number of practicing Catholics does seem to be declining overall. Sadly, only about 25% of Catholics go to Mass each Sunday (down from close to 80% in the 1950s). And an even smaller percentage agree with all the teachings of the faith and practice their faith daily to a significant degree.
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