Sunday, December 23, 2007

Practising Catholics outnumber Anglicans in the UK

Well, that is to say that practising Catholics outnumber PRACTISING Anglicans in the UK. Anglicans overall are still in the majority, and that by a considerable margin.

Much has been made in the media of this alleged ‘milestone’, but Melancholicus is not impressed. Of itself it means little, and it certainly does not mean that Britain is on its way to becoming, let alone has already become “a Catholic country”, as this headline in The Telegraph seems to indicate.

Truth is, only a tiny handful of Britain’s Christian population, irrespective of denomination, bothers to attend Sunday worship at all. The numbers attending Anglican services have typically been small for many years. Now for the first time since the Reformation, the average number of those attending a Catholic Mass (approximately 861,000) is found to be slightly in excess of the average number of those attending a service of the established Church (approximately 852,000). This tells us that the size of one small drop in the ocean is slightly larger than that of another small drop in the same ocean.

This development is regarded with an unwarranted significance in some news sources. One could be forgiven for imagining as a result that the number of practising Catholics in the UK is on the increase. The numbers attending Mass have been boosted artificially—as they have been in Ireland—by the arrival of Catholic immigrants from eastern Europe, especially from countries such as Poland. Underneath this inflation, however, the Catholic Church in England and Wales continues to decline. In 1960, in excess of two million British Catholics attended Sunday Mass; today, less than half that number continue to do so, even though the overall Catholic population has increased during the same period. Catholics now make up about 10% of the British population.

There is one religion in the UK, however, the adherents of which are steadily increasing in number.

And increasing... and increasing...

No comments: