Survey finds a third of young Catholics expect to attend Mass less

The Southern Cross

The good news is a US survey has found only a few – just eight percent – of young Catholics say their faith was weakened by the Covid-19 pandemic; a third, however, expect to attend Mass less often after the pandemic than before it.

The CARA national survey, “Faith and Spiritual Life of Catholics in the United States,” polled 2,214 18 to 35-year olds. It was conducted between July and August 2020.

It aimed to develop a better understanding of the faith and spiritual life of Catholics in the US especially Hispanics and young adults, and how to meet their needs.

The survey findings include data showing:

  • 73 percent agreed “somewhat” or “strongly” that they could be a good Catholic without going to Mass every Sunday.
  • 39 percent agreed “somewhat” or “strongly” that they could never imagine themselves leaving the Catholic Church.
  • 13 percent attended Mass at least once a week before the pandemic.
  • 21 percent said they attended Mass at least once a month, 31 percent a few times a year and 36 percent rarely or never attend Mass.
  • The most common reason given for not attending Mass was a lack of time (57 percent), not believing missing Mass is a sin (55 percent), family responsibilities (44 percent), “not a very religious person” (43 percent) and preferring to practice their faith outside the parish (43 percent).
  • A third (weekly Mass attendees) have participated in faith-related groups as adults.
  • 6 percent were “very” involved with parish activities before the pandemic, 13 percent were “somewhat” involved, 17 percent “a little” and 64 percent were not involved.

The crisis of Catholic clergy sexually abusing minors was the most frequently given reason (44 percent) for not being more active in parish life.

Other reasons include the church’s teachings on homosexuality (42 percent), feeling older people are too influential in the parish (35 percent), the church’s teachings on birth control (34 percent), the roles available to women (33 percent), a feeling that the church is not open to dialogue with other religious faiths (33 percent) and divorce and remarriage (32 percent).

Most weekly Mass attenders are in parish or diocesan young adult groups (34 percent), religious volunteer groups (19 percent), pro-life groups (15 percent), Vinnies (11 percent).

  • 74 percent active in Catholic groups agreed “somewhat” or “very much” that they are motivated to learn from new experiences.
  • 74 percent participate to nourish spiritual life, 69 percent to “reduce negative feelings”, to serve others (69 percent) and for social ties (65 percent).



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