Italy – church attendance
Posted by Fr Mark on August 27, 2009
Italian church attendance lower than thought
From: The Daily Telegraph, 23.02.07
By Malcolm Moore in Rome
Published: 12:01AM GMT 23 Feb 2007
Italy, which has been able to claim for decades that half its population goes to church regularly, has been shocked by a new study which suggests the real number is far lower.
Traditionally, Italy has had the highest church attendance figures in western Europe. Unlike Britain, Germany and Spain, the number of churchgoers was also thought to be stable.
Government surveys have shown that around 30 per cent of Italians attend Mass every Sunday, and a further 20 per cent attend once a month. On top of that, another 30 per cent go at Easter and Christmas, adding up to almost universal church attendance.
But a study by the Patriarchate of Venice, which actually asked worshippers inside 619 churches how often they had been in the past month, found only 15 per cent of worshippers go to Mass every Sunday, and eight per cent said they had been at some point in the last month. In total, only 23 per cent were shown to actually go to Church regularly.
“The wide gap [between the figures] is striking,” admitted Alessandro Castegnaro, who conducted the study under the auspices of Cardinal Angelo Scola. “The people most likely to overstate their religious practice are the people with the least education,” he added.
His figures also tallied with a study carried out last year which asked priests how many worshippers attended their Masses. The gap between the official figures and the surveys within churches also recall similar results in the United States and the UK during the 1980s.
The Pope, who is concerned about the fact that only five per cent of French Catholics go to Sunday mass, said last year that, by contrast, Italy was a “favourable terrain”.
The study follows came after an exposé last month which showed that Italian priests often gave advice in the confessional that was radically different from official Catholic doctrine.
One journalist at L’Espresso magazine was told by a priest that the “best attitude” to homosexuality was “to be yourself — what the English call ‘coming out’.” The Church’s teaching is that homosexuality is a “disorder”.