Study: Most Catholics aren't searching for spirituality online


Most U.S. Catholics are not looking for spirituality online; in fact, half of them are unaware the church even has an online presence, according to researchers at Georgetown University's Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate.

The most widely used communication tool in Catholic church is the parish bulletin, followed by a diocesan newspaper or magazine -- in print form -- which one in four adult Catholics has read in the last three months, CARA reports.

Narrowing the focus on Catholics who attend Mass each week, CARA said 13 percent of them read Catholic blogs and 17 percent view religious material on YouTube.

These findings and other trends among U.S. Catholics were presented Oct. 10 by CARA's Melissa Cidade, director of pastoral assistance surveys and services, and Mark Gray, director of Catholic polls, to a group of editors in Washington attending a Catholic Press Association/Catholic News Service Liaison Committee meeting.

CARA's communication findings were of particular interest to the group. Robert DeFrancesco, CPA president and editor and associate publisher of The Catholic Sun, newspaper of the Phoenix diocese, said the study affirms the good work the Catholic press is doing and also highlights the work they still have cut out for them in balancing print and online efforts.

Christmas-NCR-gifts-half_0.jpgGive a subscription to our award-winning newspaper and save $10.

He said it reveals how "younger Catholics are not clamoring for news online" -- which could be particularly disheartening to Catholic journalists who focus on their online product, but also needs to be balanced with the finding that one in four Catholics overall have read a diocesan paper recently -- primarily in print -- and eight in 10 readers described these papers as good or excellent.

The fact that print versions of diocesan papers still reach so many Catholics is something to think about, he noted, especially with the limited resources of many diocesan newspapers.

In discussion about the CARA findings, participants highlighted the need to continue to find new ways to tell the story of today's church and connect with readers. They said one key way to do this was through continuing to emphasize the words and actions of Pope Francis, who has appealed to so many.

CARA studies on parish life revealed that parish closings across the country have been regionalized. For example, they are closing in the Northeast but growing in the West. Currently there is a 1:1 active ratio of active diocesan priests to parishes and the median age of U.S. Catholics is 53.

One key finding CARA researchers noted was a decrease in number of baptisms, weddings and funerals in the Catholic church in recent years.

They also discussed the multicultural diversity in the church, highlighting aspects of a recent study commissioned by the Secretariat of Cultural Diversity in the Church of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

CARA estimates there are approximately 6,700 multicultural parishes of the more than 17,400 U.S. parishes and three in 10 parishes celebrate at least one Mass a month in a language other than English or Latin.

The study also notes that about 29.7 million U.S. residents who self-identify as Hispanic or Latino are estimated to be Catholic, representing about 59 percent of this population in the United States.

Support independent reporting on important issues.

 One family graphic_2016_250x103.jpg


NCR Comment code: (Comments can be found below)

Before you can post a comment, you must verify your email address at
Comments from unverified email addresses will be deleted.

  • Be respectful. Do not attack the writer. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the original idea will be deleted. NCR reserves the right to close comment threads when discussions are no longer productive.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through. If you see something objectionable, please click the "Report abuse" button. Once a comment has been flagged, an NCR staff member will investigate.

For more detailed guidelines, visit our User Guidelines page.

For help on how to post a comment, visit our reference page.

Commenting is available during business hours, Central time, USA. Commenting is not available in the evenings, over weekends and on holidays. More details are available here. Comments are open on NCR's Facebook page.



NCR Email Alerts


In This Issue

July 14-27, 2017