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a stunning stat about UK Catholicism

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Sep 10, 2010

The Daily Telegraph offers some interesting graphics as background for Pope Benedict’s visit. Diocese by diocese, the site provides a statistical view of the Catholic Church in 2010, measured against the figures for the same dioceses in 1982, when Pope John Paul II visited the country.

On the whole, the overall Catholic population is larger today than in 1982. The number of priests, nuns, parishes, and Catholic schools is roughly the same. The number of children baptized is up a bit; the number of adults received into the Church is down a bit.

And then there’s one statistic that jumps off the page: The number of Catholic weddings has dropped In one diocese after another, usually by 50% or more—often much more. In Leeds there were 1,334 marriages in 1982; this year shows just 104. In Salford the number plunged from 2,402 to 688; in Nottingham, from 1,131 to 383. The trend is consistent and overwhelming; Catholics are not marrying in the Church.

Wherever he travels, Pope Benedict always speaks about the importance of protecting and preserving marriage and family life. When he delivers that message in Britain, keep these statistics in mind. 

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  • Posted by: koinonia - Sep. 13, 2010 3:12 PM ET USA

    The sacrament of Marriage is not well understood by most Catholics today. Its primary end cannot be identified by many among the laity and clergy. How many realize marriage has unique sacramental graces available to each spouse upon request? How many know that it is a relationship that emulates that of Our Lord with His Church? How many approach the sacrament chaste? How many Catholics married in the Church end up divorced? The stats really aren't that stunning, all things considered.

  • Posted by: Lisa Nicholas, PhD - Sep. 10, 2010 7:09 PM ET USA

    Unfortunately, across every demographic segment in the UK, marriage is way down, and co-habitation is way up. It is a deeply diseased culture -- I hope, against hope, that the Holy Father's visit will occasion some measure of healing.

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