With pews emptied by COVID-19, a Catholic researcher asks, ‘What if they never come back?’
Based on survey analysis of 230,000 Catholic adults from 1,255 American parishes, the CEO of the Catholic Leadership Institute describes how the pandemic has further emphasized troubling trends within the Catholic church in the United States already in place. Notably, 15% of respondents described falling away from the church in the past six years while about 10% of respondents reported attending Mass mostly out of a habit. With the disruption of these habits given the pandemic's closures and social distancing measures, it is unclear if a return to normal is likely. At the same time, results also indicate that pastoral outreach and innovation is key to attracting new members.