Catholics Going Down in Vermont

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Yesterday, the Times Argus portrayed the parlous state of the Catholic church in Vermont. The article relies on Pew for the numbers. ARIS‘  are comparable: A 30 percent decline in self-identified Catholics since 1990, from 37 percent of the population to 26 percent. If it’s any consolation, the decline in the proportion of other Christians is even greater–38 percent, from 47 to 29 percent. The big growth–240 percent–has been among those who say they have no religion. To put it starkly, 20 years ago there were three times as many Catholics as Nones. Now there are a third more Nones than Catholics.

You’d think, under the circumstances, the chief executive would want to get out in public and make the case for his product. But Bishop Salvatore Matano doesn’t speak to the press. He’s offended because it has quoted David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (after paying $965,000 to settle a priest abuse case).

“Based on our past experience with your articles, and other
reporters and news agencies in Vermont, I have no well-founded
confidence that your article will be unbiased,” the Rev. Daniel White
wrote on behalf of the bishop. “In the future, please God, this
confidence can be restored. Until such time, the diocese will continue
to find alternative ways to speak to the faithful in Vermont and the
public at large.”

Feckless is as feckless does.

  • Deacon John M. Bresnahan

    I’m puzzled at Catholic shrinkage being the focus of this story when Protestant shrinkage, as reported in the story, is apparently much greater than Catholic shrinkage. Is this because Protestant churches rapidly shrinking is old news?? Or a way of gloating over the fact that shrinkage has now hit the Catholic Church (at least in Vermont).

  • Mark Silk

    The simple answer is that the Catholic church has for many years been by far the largest single religious institution in Vermont–whereas the many people who identify as non-Catholic Christians are dispersed and (often) not actually affiliated with a particular church. That’s not to say that there might not be a bit of anti-Catholicism around the edges.