Why Do Fewer Catholics Attend Mass?

Why do fewer Catholics attend Mass today has been a source of discussion at my parish of late. Obviously there is a great deal of disagreement. Two things that are clear to me is that there are many reasons and there are compounding reasons.

Here is my feeble attempt to think this through. What critical elements did I miss? One that I know is missing is that with fewer people attending Mass, both the Church and the all the faithful of the Church are deprived of the fruits of much prayer. I just wasn’t sure how to work that in.

Your comments are welcomed.

I don’t have the numbers to back this up (or anything to rival that flow chart) but my guess is that fewer people are attending religious services of any type (Protestant, Jewish or any other religion). I think that it is simply a reflection of the everybody does his own thing society that we live in.

Church attendance for all denominations began to fall off in the '60s with the counter-culture phenomenon. The new Evangelical churches started, business like a cross between Amway and a tent revival and used TV to great advantage in gathering large flocks into huge churches for large profits.

This is not a “Catholic” issue; it is a cultural issue.

Time to watch this become a it is because of Vatican II and we no longer have the Latin mass thread. Yes blame it on the words and ignore the REAL reasons. :popcorn:

It’s most certainly a Catholic issue. There is no question there. That much I am certain of.

It might well be a cultural issue on a larger scale as well and that might be a great topic for another thread.

But attempts to absolve the Church of its role in the decline in today’s attendance of the Mass is nothing more than denial. That denial in itself is a reason for the continued decline.

Same with suggesting that attendance has fallen in other Christian fellowships. That might indeed be the case but it’s no excuse for the decline in Mass attendance.

I sure hope it does not go that way. I hope we can think and dig a bit deeper on this one.

I will give an example. I don’t think the formulation of the OF Mass has anything to do with the decline in today’s Mass attendance.

I do think that its abysmal implementation, often times abusive celebration and the horrid communication surrounding the shelving of the EF Mass had a great deal to do with many of the faithful becoming disgruntled.

Actually, Mass attendance began its decline prior to Vatican II, and has been steadily decreasing.

Where are you talking about. Here in the Philippines the Churches are packed full every Sunday Mass.
Our parish has 80%+ Mass attendance and we need 10 Masses every Sunday to accommodate everyone.

I also lived in Singapore and Hong Kong where Sunday Masses are packed. I have travelled extensively to other Asian countries and it is the same there.

I haven’t been to Africa but Catholicism is the fastest growing religion there and Masses are well attended there too.

What I am saying is that if you ask a question you should be specific about location.

I don’t dispute what you stated, but do you have any statistics?

I was just checking on google. I found an article which stated that Gallup had found that in the first decade of this century, Catholic Mass attendance in the US was up slightly. I want to try and find the Gallup data to see what it actually measured.

I saw one non denominational Christian poll that said “more households” (but less people) were attending services monthly. That can be misleading.

I agree with others that there is both a cultural aspect and a Catholic one and they aren’t always mutually exclusive. We should admit the problems and make the effort to change them. The chart shows the complexity of the issue and acknowledges that it is not necessarily exhaustive.

How about the rise of individualism? This is only an opinion, but it seems to me that during my lifetime our culture has come to value the individual more than the community. When we attend church, we are acknowledging our membership in a community. We may have to put aside our own needs or desires for the good of that community and from a clearly anecdotal perspective I see that as something fewer and fewer people want to do. We wear our individualism like a badge of honor, and it’s hard to be a true member of a community when it’s more important to us that we do everything all by ourselves.

Me too!

Quite candidly, in speaking with fallen Catholics, the answers seem generally consistent. The draws of the secular world are much stronger these days. Consequently, the church is no longer the center of the community as it once was, particularly as it was following great waves of immigration. Further, there is a sense of being socially stigmatized as a Catholic in today’s society, as a consequence of the scandals we have endured (and the poor manner in which many believe they were handled).

Respectfully, very few of the fallen of my generation (now married with kids) even mention the EF/OF or Vatican II. They were born into the post Vatican II era, raised in Catholic families, and many attended Catholic schools. Yet, they have fallen. This generation grew up with the OF, so it is the Church they know from that standpoint. They rarely if ever mention the form of worship. They do tend to focus on perceived hypocracy in Catholic worship and among worshippers, again reflecting the criticisms of secular society at large.

Bottom line = its hard to be a Catholic in modern society without some sense of being out of step.

The Pope rightly focuses of modernism and secularization. The Year of Faith & New Evangelization movement are meant to establish a foundation for renewal of faith among practicing Catholics and outreach to the fallen.

My Mother rarely missed Mass prior to 1969. She loved the mass that she grew up with and was truly shaken and confused by the new changes and implementation.
Afterwards, she became an infrequent attendee until my sister and I were of high school age in 1973. Then she became a C&E and special occasion attendee. But in her later years, whenever she was in the hospital, she received sacraments of penance and communion often.

Very true. And one aspect of this is technology (computer, smart phones) today which encourages/promotes less direct social interaction in all domains (pun intended :D).

Lots of agreement with your analysis!

The bishop of Trenton, NJ recently did a study on why people left the Church.

An article about it is here.

Reasons listed in the article include:

  • The personal (“the pastor who crowned himself king and looks down on all”)

  • The political (“eliminate the extreme conservative haranguing”)

  • The doctrinal (“don’t spend so much time on issues like homosexuality and birth control”).

  • They didn’t like the church’s handling of the clergy sex abuse scandal and were upset that divorced and remarried Catholics are unwelcome at Mass.

  • About half offered negative comments about their parish priests, whom they described as “arrogant,” “distant” and “insensitive.”

  • The respondents also called for better homilies, better music and more accountability of the church staff.

The results were presented at a Catholic University symposium on Lapsed Catholics. It would be interesting to track down the presentations.

Let me restate: it is not exclusively or in some special way a Catholic issue, our decline is not different n any significant way from the other denomination’s declines.

It might well be a cultural issue on a larger scale as well and that might be a great topic for another thread.

Or this one because it answers the question that is the topic of the thread: Fewer Catholics attend Mass because a culture-wide trend to stop attending religious services began to manifest itself in the early sixties.

But attempts to absolve the Church of its role in the decline in today’s attendance of the Mass is nothing more than denial.

I am certain that scandal has run off many parishioners. There are also scandals in other churches that run off their congregations.

But the decline started a couple decades - wait - four decades befofre any of these scandals, indeed, before Vatican II.

Same with suggesting that attendance has fallen in other Christian fellowships. That might indeed be the case but it’s no excuse for the decline in Mass attendance.

I have no idea what “no excuse” means. It isn’t an excuse, it’s an observation of something that happened culture-wide to churches. All churches. Unless you count Wicca, I think. You won’t find the answer in the Church because the process did not begin in the Catholic church, is not exclusive to the Catholic church. The denial I see is folks trying to blame the Church for something far outside the scope of any single religious denomination. I imagine, in fact, with Catholic culture itself being so string, that the Church held onto it’s numbers longer than others. I believe people want to blame the Church because they can then believe it will be able to be “fixed.” It won’t be. We will never go back to what was. We will move forward to some new norm.

Cardinal Ratzinger talked about this in a book in the early 70s. He was spot on.

I think it just reflects an overall increase in the secularization of society.

Hey Everyone:

Here is my thought. I think it is plain and simple. I think as in any church, it is up to the Priest/Pastor. It is basic psychology. People get away with only what they are allowed to get away with. We have 4,000 members in our Church. We have 4 masses. The Priest does not allow “Lax” Catholics. Here is how are church is ran:

  1. Fr. says that we are to turn in our church envelopes EVERY Sunday. He does not care what is in the envelopes, he care that you attend. He told us just last week, he take the salvation of our souls very seriously.

  2. The Children of our Catholic School (we are a parish) have to get a form signed after church every week and turn it into their teachers on Monday.

  3. Parents sign a covenant. The church/school can do only so much. You need to plant the seed at home. If we stop being Catholic we are told to leave the parish. He does not let our Catholic School be used as a private school

  4. When you join out Catholic Church you have to sign up for one of our ministries.

  5. Father is understanding if you have a reason, like Sick, handicap, or Dying. Unless you have a reasonable excuse, their is no excuse.

  6. All you have to do is hear one of Fathers Homilies and you will understand why we are packed!! youtube.com/watch?v=ltTd81XpDnc

I am sick of hearing this nonsense about pre-Vatican II. You are either in line with the churches teachings or your not. It is not up to laity or any priest, to decide what is magisterial or not. That is why we have a Vicar of Christ. If you are not in line with the the Church there is a name for that -Heresy.

Thanks for reading my post. Please get a chance to listen to Fr. Homily. It just might make you want to move to Indiana!! LOL

Good nite… Its time for our family Bible study.

These are some on the findings being discussed by the US Bishops:

According to this news report: catholicnewsagency.com/news/bishops_to_analyze_mass_attendance_recent_data_on_u.s._catholic_church/

CARA Senior Research Associate, Dr. Mary Gautier explained to CNA that their 178-page study “points out some of the issues regarding belief and practice in the Church today.”

In regard to the state of the Catholic Church today, Gautier said that “Mass attendance has been stable at about a quarter of Catholics attending Mass weekly or more.”

Gautier further explained that the percentage of Catholics attending Mass has remained stable over recent years. Though the researchers had expected Mass attendance to drop due to the sexual abuse scandal, they found it to remain constant throughout the recent turmoil, she said.

The report adds that older Catholics are more likely than younger Catholics to attend every week. Reasons that Catholics do not attend weekly Mass were listed as: an “issue of schedules, health, or other responsibilities, while for others, the reason is related to their attitudes about their faith.”

Another finding of the report was that 80 percent of those who attend Mass weekly are: “proud to be Catholic, believe sacraments are essential to their faith, and think of themselves as practicing Catholics.” CARA also reports that those who attend Mass less frequently “are less likely to agree with these statements.

While I agree there was a drop in the second half of the 20th century. This century seems to be “steady” and the reasons for the past drops are largely changes in "their attitudes about their faith.” No doubt many of the cultural influences of the 60’s & 70’s contributed to their change in attitudes.

Most of the world, particularly Europe and the USA.

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