Wednesday, 15 September 2010

How many Catholics in Britain?

Hurrah for the BBC -- a superbly comprehensive briefing (complete with tables)on the Catholic population in Britain, including numbers of Massgoers.

Of 41m Christians in Britain, some 5m claim to be Catholic, or one in 12 of the general population.

But these figures are based on the 2001 census, since when, according to the Christian Research Group, numbers have "stabilised" -- but the BBC doesn't give the new figure for numbers of Catholics, which Monitor understands to be considerably more, because of the influx of the foreign-born.

Practising Catholics number about one million -- more than practising Anglicans.

Interestingly, says the report,

Figures gathered by the National Centre for Social Research show that membership of most religions is lower now than it was 30 years ago, with a marked decline appearing among people who say they belong to the Church of England from 40 to 20%.By comparison, the numbers of those claiming to be Catholic has remained fairly stable, dropping only 1% from 10 to 9% since 1983.
As for the country as a whole,

The number of people of all faiths attending church services appears to be at a low ebb, with 58% of those polled saying they never attend services.
Still, that's more than 40% who do attend services sometimes. Not quite the "secular wasteland" that some have supposed -- or which the National Secular Society would like to see.

The NSS, notes the BBC, "feels any boost in numbers will be shortlived." But this shouldn't really be a matter of feeling, should it?