Today the U.S. bishops are gathering to discuss current issues relating to the American Catholic Church at the spring meeting of the United States Conference of Bishops. In addition, CARA, a Georgetown-based research center will present findings from its study, “Sacraments Today: Belief and Practice Among U.S. Catholics.”
Over the course of their two day meeting in Orlando, the bishops will discuss a variety of pertinent topics to the American Catholic Church such as embryonic stem cell research, updates on the sexual abuse scandal, and the new translation of the Proper of the Seasons of the Roman Missal.
Not to be overlooked amidst the high profile issues are two presentations from the well-known research groups Pew and CARA, which will help the bishops take the pulse of the Catholic Church in the U.S.
Pew will present their U.S. Religious Landscape Survey and CARA, the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, will provide the bishops with an overview of their study, “Sacraments Today: Belief and Practice Among U.S. Catholics.”
CARA Senior Research Associate, Dr. Mary Gautier explained to CNA that their 178-page study “points out some of the issues regarding belief and practice in the Church today.”
In regard to the state of the Catholic Church today, Gautier said that “Mass attendance has been stable at about a quarter of Catholics attending Mass weekly or more.”
Gautier further explained that the percentage of Catholics attending Mass has remained stable over recent years. Though the researchers had expected Mass attendance to drop due to the sexual abuse scandal, they found it to remain constant throughout the recent turmoil, she said.
The report adds that older Catholics are more likely than younger Catholics to attend every week. Reasons that Catholics do not attend weekly Mass were listed as: an “issue of schedules, health, or other responsibilities, while for others, the reason is related to their attitudes about their faith.”
Another finding of the report was that 80 percent of those who attend Mass weekly are: “proud to be Catholic, believe sacraments are essential to their faith, and think of themselves as practicing Catholics.” CARA also reports that those who attend Mass less frequently “are less likely to agree with these statements.”