Most British Catholics will return to church, says survey

Most British Catholics – 96 percent – will return to worship in a church once the coronavirus (COVID-29) pandemic is over.

Results from a new survey say just 4 percent of Catholics in Britain won’t be going back to worship in church.

The poll of 2,500 people was conducted by Catholic Voices, a group set up in the U.K. in 2010 to improve communications between the church and the media.

The survey’s findings contradict predictions that the COVID-19 crisis would irrevocably accelerate the decline of collective worship among the faithful.

Brenden Thompson, CEO of Catholic Voices, says he is “pleasantly surprised by many of the findings.”

“Catholics miss their parishes and church buildings and seem eager to return, not just content with virtual church.”

“Many, it seems, by and large, have backed the bishops, been grateful for the efforts of clergy to livestream, and many have even felt at times closer to God and been more prayerful than usual.”

“That said, the challenges ahead are real, so if we want to capitalize on this goodwill, we need to start thinking seriously about the conversations that need to happen as more and more begin returning to parishes.”

In early September, Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, who is the president of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union, said many Catholics in Europe would not return to Mass or parish activities once the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.

He said this demonstrates the urgency of a new evangelization based on Catholics actually living their faith.

The Catholic Voices study of British Catholics shows 93 percent of those interviewed worshipped by watching Mass online during lockdown.

Sixty-six percent appreciated the virtual services the dioceses and parish churches were providing.

The survey results also say 61 percent of those interviewed said they wished to revert to regular Mass attendance when the churches fully reopened.

Thirty-five percent said they would worship online only occasionally at that point — if the service remained available.

“It seems that virtual worship during the lockdown has been generally well received,” the study results published last Wednesday say.

“While it may remain something that some people might dip into in the future, few would stop attending church altogether.”

The study, called “Coronavirus, Church & You,” was intended to explore the experience of the lockdown of both clergy and laity.

Other results show:

Sixty-one percent agreed the temporary closure of churches was right.

Eighty percent agreed church buildings were essential to “faith witness.”

Eighty-four percent disagreed with the statement that church buildings were an unnecessary burden and expense.

Fifty-three percent agree the Church had responded well to the crisis, compared to 22 percent who offered the same opinion for the performance of the government.

Nearly two-thirds had some contact with clergy during lockdown.

Half of those interviewed said the crisis made them feel closer to God.

Over 50 percent said the lockdown made them more prayerful.

The survey was carried out by researchers from the Universities of Birmingham, York St. John and Warwick.


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