The Decline of Faith Among Young Catholics

Writing at the Nationanl Catholic Reporter, Professor Christian Smith, sociolologist at Notre Dame, describes the "grim" situation concerning the attrition of faith among young Catholics. Here is an important paragraph:

By contrast, my National Study of Youth and Religion is a longitudinal panel study that tracked a large sample of the same youth respondents over 10 years of their lives. We are thus able to identify at any given time not only current Catholics, but also ex-Catholics. And we find (and will publish in a forthcoming report) that fully one-half of youth who self-identified as Catholic as teenagers no longer identified as Catholics 10 years later in their 20s. That is a 50 percent loss through attrition in one decade. If that number is not grim, I do not know what is.

In his brief post at NCR Professor Smith doesn't offer any prescriptions for improving those statistics, but he has coauthored a book on this topic, which you can find here.  

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
J Cosgrove
2 years 9 months ago
A couple things: The link above for the comments by Christian Smith is wrong. Here is a link that works My guess is that Professor Smith understates the problem and seems to be clueless as to its causes. One only has to understand who controls the dialogue in our society to understand what has happened and the causes. The main controllers of dialogue are academia, the press and popular media (music and entertainment). All of which are controlled by anti-religious thinkers who are preaching a set of values that is contrary to any religious understanding let alone traditional religious thought. Even the so called Catholic universities are full of atheists. It is surprising that it has taken so long to reach this point and one has to ask what it will be like in 20 years. If one reads Allan Bloom's The Closing of the American Mind, the seeds for all this were prevalent everywhere in the 1980's. The ship is slowly sinking and at the end it will be quick. But what will that bring. We do not know. There have been great changes in culture before only to be reigned in by what the people thought were the extreme negative consequences of these changes. Will we survive and laugh about it or will the ship truly sink with a few survivors left to carry on.


Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

The cardinal stepped down as archbishop in February 2013 after three priests and one former priest alleged Cardinal O'Brien had made sexual advances toward them 20 years earlier.
The meeting will help the Vatican prepare for its synod on young adults in 2018.
Jesus understands you when you are disappointed.
James Martin, S.J.March 19, 2018
The Vatican has released the complete letter by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI about Pope Francis after facing criticism for manipulating a photograph of it.
Gerard O’ConnellMarch 17, 2018