Spain will 'not be a Catholic country in 20 years'

Madrid, Spain - For the first time ever, a majority of young Spaniards said they did not consider themselves Catholics, according to a new survey.

The survey, by the Fundacion Santa Maria, said many felt a mounting distrust of the the Roman Catholic Church and growing disbelief in God, the Spanish daily El Pais reported.

The authors of the survey said its results indicate that within a generation Spain will no longer be a Catholic country, as this generation's children will not be brought up as believers.

The survey polled Spaniards between 15 and 24 six times between 1984.

It found that last year only 49 percent said they were were practising or non-practising


In comparison, a previous survey, in 1996, found 77 percent of respondents said they would describe themselves Catholics.

Now, 46 percent said they felt they were agnostics, atheists or simply indifferent to religion – and 45 percent said they did not believe in God.

Part of the huge drop in support for the Church was its failure to adapt to modern times, say sociologists.

Juan González Anleo, one of the authors of the report the Church's "unpopular" stance on issues like the legalisation of homosexual marriage, abortion or sexual practices have alienated younger people.

The survey found the Catholic Church is the least trusted of any institution, including multi-national companies and NATO.

One in eight said it was excessively wealthy.

But 43 percent said they wanted a Church wedding, compared with 22 percent who would like a civil ceremony.