At Notre Dame’s much younger sister church in Bordeaux (construction began in 1684), Easter Mass was well attended. But in his homily the priest noted that the church now has only two Sunday masses; he could remember when there were seven. And for the first time in 15 years, there was not one new priest ordained in the diocese. Bordeaux, he said, was lucky; some French dioceses have not seen any ordinations in 20 years.France was once one of the most Catholic countries in Europe. Today, while 64 percent of French people still identify as Christian, only 5 percent attend church regularly and just 1 in 10 pray daily. The younger generation is even less attached to the faith of their fathers. According to a study by the Benedict XVI Center for Religion and Society, only 26 percent of French young adults consider themselves Christians, and 65 percent say they never pray. The same sad story is playing out across the rest of Europe. The study found only three countries — Poland, Portugal and Ireland — where more than 1 in 10 young people said they attend a religious service weekly.The situation in the United States is somewhat better: 39 percent of Catholics and 58 percent of evangelicals attend church services once a week, and even more say they go a few times a month. But the numbers are in decline among the young as well. Only 11 percent of younger millennials are weekly churchgoers, while 16 percent more go either once or twice a month, or a few times a year. The secular tsunami that has swept Europe is making its way across the Atlantic.
24 April 2019
Secularism in Europe
The burning of Notre Dame prompted a Washington Post columnist to present recent data on church attendance in Europe: