Catholic school students



Catholic population



Catholic marriages



 This is the table for the Cincinnati Inquirer that shows the state of the Catholic Church in 1982 when he became the archbishop of Cincinnati and as it is today when he leaves it. 

Ohio is a declining state, and the small shrinkage in parishes and number of Catholics and Catholic school students is not unexpected. 

However, the decline in the number of priests, seminarians, and especially marriages shows that the level of adult commitment to Catholicism is about half what it is when he took over. The decline in marriages is especially significant. It would be interesting to see the figures for baptism and confirmation. 

Usually such massive declines have occurred only in times of extreme crisis such as the Reformation or the French Revolution. To have such a decline (and it is paralleled in other areas of North America and Europe) shows that the Catholic Church s undergoing a crisis as severe as the better known historical ones. 

Yet Pilarczyk thinks that all is basically well, at least in the areas that he controls: 

“We have to avoid the trap of equating numbers with quality. Would I be happier if we had more priests? Sure I would. But it doesn’t mean catastrophe has struck because we have fewer … Today we’ve got lay ministers and professional people working with the priests. In the old days, there was a pastor, a school principal and a maintenance man. Today, (the pastor) has a staff.” 

Pilarczyk blames “secularity” but conservative Protestant churches have shown vitality during the same period. The Gallup Poll shows that as Catholic attendance has declined, Protestant attendance has risen. 

In 1955, adult Catholics of all ages attended church at similar rates, with between 73% and 77% saying they attended in the past week. By the mid-1960s, weekly attendance of young Catholics (those 21 to 29 years of age) started to wane, falling to 56%, while attendance among other age groups dropped only slightly, to around 70%. By the mid-1970s, only 35% of Catholics in their 20s said they had attended in the past week, but attendance was also starting to fall among those in their 30s, 40s, and 50s.

Attendance for most of the groups continued to fall from the 1970s to the 1990s. However, over the past decade it has generally stabilized, particularly among Catholics in their 20s and 30s.

Across this entire period, attendance among Catholics aged 60 and older has dropped from 73% to 58%.

But if “secularity” is the cause of this drop in Church attendance why has Protestant attendance risen? 

The picture in attendance by age is entirely different among Protestants. Apart from a temporary dip in weekly church attendance among 21- to 29-year-old Protestants in the 1960s and 1970s, attendance has stayed the same or increased among all the age groups. It even rebounded among young Protestants in the 1980s, and is now close to 1950s levels.

 Because the liberal, main-line churches are in long-term decline, this increase must be in the more conservative churches.

 Pilarczyk may have saved the finances of the archdiocese by setting aside 3 M for victims (although I estimate the life-long financial damage to each victim at 500,000 – 1,000,000) but he has not saved the heart of the church– but that is not his concern.

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