‘For every person baptized, the U.S. Catholic Church loses six

He may be at the helm of one of the most dynamic Roman Catholic parishes in Florida, with the 3,000 families present each weekend at one of the seven masses at Saint Peter’s Church in Deland, but Father Thomas Connery is still worried.

“We have many retirees in Florida, so the churches are full but take them away and it’s a catastrophe,” says Father Connery. “We’re not managing to reach the young generations.

“For every person baptized, the American church loses six Catholics,” he laments. “We don’t dare talk about it among priests, doubtless because we do not know what to do, but it is past time to break this taboo.

“Imagine a company facing such a problem. It would immediately launch an emergency plan! What about us?”

U.S. bishops do not yet have an emergency plan, but they have organized a unique gathering. For the first time in a hundred years, priests, laymen, monks, nuns and other heads of services and movements from all over the United States have come together at a meeting in Orlando, Florida from 1 to 4 July.

Their purpose is to reflect on how to be the best “missionary disciples”, in the words of Pope Francis in his Evangelii gaudium.

The Evangelical Churches are attracting believers

Catholics represent the largest denomination in the United States, with 77.4 million believers (22% of the total population), but fewer people have actually been attending church. The number of people taking the sacraments, except baptism, is also dropping.

From 2013 to 2016, the number of children who had had their first communion decreased by 50,000 or 7%. Catholic schools registered a loss of 250,000 students over the same period.

While the number of Catholics is on the rise, this increase is due to Hispanic immigration and “we don’t always manage to keep them”, says Fr Connery. “Many turn to the evangelical churches, which give more scope for emotion, involve the faithful more, use music that is closer to modern culture.” Continue reading


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