Catholic World News

Pittsburgh: Mass attendance down 40% since 2000

August 18, 2016

Commenting on sobering demographic and financial trends, Bishop David Zubik of Pittsburgh told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that “the number one priority has to be, ‘We need to make our worship better.”

“Second of all, we need to do the best job that we can to get not only more ordained leaders, but we really have to open up lots of doors for the lay leaders of the Church,” he said.

Since 2000, diocesan Mass attendance has declined by 40%, and K-8 Catholic school enrollment has fallen by 50%.

The newspaper also reported that nearly half of Pittsburgh parishes are the in red, compared to one-third in 2012.



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  • Posted by: Terri11 - Aug. 26, 2016 7:24 PM ET USA

    Get a great priest, you'll get great attendance. It's that simple. I've witnessed that at our current parish. When a priest teaches well, takes Mass seriously, and genuinely loves his congregation, people WANT to get out of bed on Sunday morning to go. Doesn't have to be a Latin Mass at all, but someone who adores the Mass he's saying and explains why everyone else should too. When a priest acts like the Mass isn't important, people pick that up too--and prefer to catch up on sleep.

  • Posted by: unum - Aug. 19, 2016 10:35 AM ET USA

    "Better worship" is not the term I'd have chosen to reverse the decrease in Mass attendance in our parish. When congregations are not evangelized and don't understand the wonder of the Mass and the message of Christ to "go out into the world", the Mass has little meaning to them. I agree with wcbeckman51 about the need for evangelizing the faithful, and I wonder who the bishops believe is responsible for reaching out to the people of God.

  • Posted by: rjbennett1294 - Aug. 19, 2016 4:44 AM ET USA

    "We need to make our worship better," says Bishop Zubik. I wonder if he's ever thought of trying the Traditional Latin Mass, and maybe some of the theology that goes along with it. I mean, does it say something that the 40% drop in Mass attendance since the year 2000 - and more of a drop the farther back you go - does it say something that this drop coincides with the abandonment of the traditional Mass and the traditional teachings of the Church? I know, I know, that's just a coincidence.

  • Posted by: wcbeckman51 - Aug. 18, 2016 6:34 PM ET USA

    Sad to say, but the good bishop is confused. First things first. The churches have emptied because the great majority of people (and not just in Pittsburgh) have not been evangelized. People need to hear the kerygma of Jesus Christ announced with boldness and be invited to repent and believe the Gospel. The new ecclesial movements and charisms are doing this well. Bishop Zubik needs to "open wide the doors and put out into the deep." Zealous disciples, not lay ecclesial ministers.

  • Posted by: koinonia - Aug. 18, 2016 1:48 PM ET USA

    The catechism says that all humans are created to know God, to love God and to serve God. This is really the fundamental area of concern. The Catholic way of doing this has succumbed to something foreign, and the statistics testify to this. Can we truly make "God offering God to God" better? Of course not. But if it does not occur to us that this is the Mass, we might well look horizontally tirelessly for solutions. We'll have "water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink."

  • Posted by: Lucius49 - Aug. 18, 2016 10:13 AM ET USA

    What does it mean " to make our worship better"? That's the problem. "We" are not the source of worship.

  • Posted by: Randal Mandock - Aug. 18, 2016 9:13 AM ET USA

    The seminaries of the extraordinary rite are bursting at the seams. Maybe we should have a "messy" Church and "mix things up" by considering a different model for the modern-day priest. The Catholic schools would expand if they offered services to their customers that far exceeded the services provided by the competition. For the clergy, their greatest service is proper offering of the Mass and other sacraments. For the schools, their service is proper preparation for temporal and eternal life.