The Francis Effect: Sharp drop in U.S. church attendance

If a pope’s effectiveness is measured by Catholic church attendance, then the papacy of Jorge Bergoglio, aka Pope Francis, is a failure.

A Gallop poll found that Catholic church attendance in the United States between the pontificates of Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis experienced the sharpest drop in decades, since the 1970s:

  • From 2005 to 2008 in the early years of the Benedict pontificate, an average of 45% of U.S. Catholics attended weekly Mass.
  • That average fell to 39% during the heart of the Francis papacy, from 2014 to 2017.
  • American Catholics between the ages of 50 and 59 saw the sharpest decline in Mass attendance between the pontificates of Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis, falling from 46% to 31%, or a drop of 15%.
  • Those aged 30 to 39 is the only age group that experienced a rise in church attendance between the pontificates of Benedict and Francis, from 40% to 43%.

The 6% drop cannot attributed to a decline in religiosity of all U.S. Christians, but is unique to the Catholic Church because weekly church attendance has remained steady among Protestants.

The Francis papacy is continuing the trend of a decline in Catholic weekly church attendance which began in the 1950s, plunging 21% from 75% in 1955 to 54% by 1975, with the sharpest decrease during the period of the Second Vatican Council and its aftermath (1962-65). It then fell an average of 4% per decade through the mid-1990s before stabilizing in the mid-2000s. Since then, the downward trend has resumed, with the percentage attending in the past week falling another 6% in the past decade.

In contrast, Protestant church attendance has been stable through the years, from 42% in 1955 to 45% by 2017.

Thomas D. Williams, Ph.D., of Breitbart observes that it is unlikely that Pope Francis’ “continual deemphasizing of the importance of obedience to church rules such as regular Mass attendance and adherence to Catholic doctrine has not had an appreciable effect on Catholic practice.” Williams points to a recent study by the Pew Research Center which found “signs of growing discontent” with Francis are emerging among American Catholics. While the general view of most U.S. Catholics toward Pope Francis is still positive, the unmistakable trend is toward greater disapproval of Francis, with increasing numbers saying they view the pope unfavorably because he is “too liberal and naïve”:

  • The percentage of Catholics who say they disapprove of the pope has more than doubled in the last four years, from 4% in 2014 to 9% in 2018.
  • The number of American Catholics who believe that Pope Francis represents a “major change for the worse” has more than doubled from 2015 to 2018, from just 3% in 2015 to 7% at present.
  • The share of U.S. Catholics who consider Francis “too liberal” has risen sharply from 19% in 2015 to 34% in 2018, while the number who consider him to be “naïve” has risen from 15% to 24% in the same period.

See also “The Illegitimate Pope: Election of Jorge Bergoglio as Pope Francis was contaminated by lobbying in violation of papal laws”.

H/t John Molloy


18 responses to “The Francis Effect: Sharp drop in U.S. church attendance

  1. I am not Catholic, please excuse this question. Is it acceptable to question or disagree with the Pope? I was told by several Catholics that this Pope is “great” and they love him, especially the “no hell” announcement. I don’t know if they truly like him or they CAN’T say anything against him because of his infallibility? The only criticism I have heard or read from other Catholics has been on this site and others online. If I mention that perhaps this new Pope is going against traditional Catholic teaching, I am told that I “don’t understand” by other Catholics in my life. I think I understand these contradictions and the idea of corruption. For these people who love him, is it willful blindness or what? I don’t mean disrespect to anyone. It’s an honest question… can anyone do or say anything if the Pope leading souls the wrong way?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Alexander 6th is going to call him a screwball.


  3. Locally, which isn’t a measure of anything important, our parish has GROWN. I don’t attribute that to Francis. We don’t even speak of him unless we’re at the “Prayers of the Faithful” which automatically include him.

    I can’t remember EVER hearing a discussion of anything this Pope has said or done in or around church. So, I’m a little skeptical of Francis chasing away the masses. I don’t like him either but I don’t take him serious enough to change a thing. After all the Church is not a democracy and he isn’t going to be “voted out”.

    I view him like a rash.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I think people should solely rely on the teaching of Christ, The Word of God and their own heart what message still valid Today than what any denomination teaches or how we can spend Eternity With God.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Exactly. I’m a Christian, not a Catholic. There are just too many “human interpretations” of the bible in Catholicism for me. They change things and it’s God/Christ we’re supposed to worship, not human ‘saints’, especially not praying to human saints, that always got me.

      If you read the bible, Jesus said to not turn the Temple into a “house of merchandise” or selling. Ever see a church carnival? And it says, “And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven”. What do they call the priests? “Father”. There are many other things, but that’s just one of the reasons I drifted away from the Catholic Church. We all have to go with what we feel is the place we need to worship, I suppose. I didn’t go with the churches that use “rock music” either, I felt that was unnecessary.

      Liked by 1 person

      • The way I understand when we Catholics acknowledge the Saints, we show our belief that the souls in Heaven are not dead but alive, as instructed in Luke l6, beginning verse 19. In fact, they are more alive than when they were on earth. It pleases God when we acknowledge this fact. Catholic do not worship Saints any veneration we offer them is a glory to God’s word.
        I also know many Christians who refer to their parents as mother and father, the Catholic priest is our Spiritual Father as his authority comes from God.
        Know that we are living in the Great Apostasy as foretold to us would occur within the Church that Christ founded.
        ” yet the Son of man, when He cometh, shall he find, think you, faith on earth?”[Luke 18:8]
        He was speaking of the Faith that Jesus taught His apostles, not the faith of man-made Christians whether to be Vatican II Catholics (including a pope) or Protestants, pray to know the Truth and pray to have the grace to act on this Truth. Seek and you will Find. God bless you!

        Liked by 1 person

        • I asked God to lead me to which church He wanted me to attend, as well as the bible I should read, and He lead me to the bible (Recovery edition). It explains a lot, which I had felt was true but never put into words. It’s more of a study bible, but it rings true to me, especially with the explanations of Paul’s letters to the churches and especially the whole Revelations thing, the Pope, etc.


  5. He is just a fake and pretentious man performing his duties in both saintly and devilish ways, as if God is watching and the devil made me do it. I believe we, the Church, are finally seeing his true colors.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. One guess why…

    Liked by 3 people

  7. traildustfotm

    So awful. So sad.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. We shouldn’t be shocked by this current pretender pope, the Bible warns us in the end times there will be an apostasy from the Faith.
    Pray at least when you leave this life you will be united to His Faith.

    Liked by 1 person

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