Jun 12, 2007

Severe Decline in Catholic Marriages

U.S. Catholic dioceses reported 426,000 Catholic marriages in 1970 but only about 212,000 in 2006, a decline of 214,000 (or 50%) in the past 36 years, according to Our Sunday Visitor. This statistic means that there are 50% fewer new Catholic families being started than in 1970--even though the population of Catholics has supposedly increased. Moreover, the number of children may be fewer because of contraception.

I wouldn't be surprised if a significant part of the recent 212,000 marriages in 2006 were Catholic because of the parents' faith or wishes, rather than that of the bride and groom. Considering this likely scenario and other statistics, the number of Catholic marriages may indicate that the Catholic church in the U.S. could have decreased in believing members by over 70 percent.

If I were a good Bishop today, it would be hard not to look at the mess left by former Bishops in my diocese and ruefully say, "Thanks a lot, guys--you've made my work a lot harder than it should have been!"

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