Official state records in Costa Rica show that of all the weddings registered last year, only 21.08% were celebrated by Catholic priests, while 77.41% were officiated by a lawyer and 1.51% took place outside the country.
Last year, more than 25,000 weddings took place in all of Costa Rica, with some 10,000 divorces registered, 600 less than in 2007.
The data shows Catholic weddings have declined since 1995. In 1980, of every 100 marriages, 77 took place in the Church, whereas in 1995, that number dropped to 52 of every 100.
According to media reports, Church leaders in San Jose were disappointed with the statistics and said the decline is due to indifference among Costa Ricans to religious matters and the rejection of life-long commitments such as marriage.
“We must recognize that many couples prefer to enter into civil marriages today before getting married in the Church because of the bad example they have seen in their own homes,” Church officials said in a statement in which they also reaffirmed the importance of religious marriage for the good of the family.