The Catholic Research Forum (CRF) is one of a stream of initiatives based in the new Benedict XVI Center for Religion and Society at St Mary’s University in Twickenham, london. Its aim is to provide pastorally useful and academically rigorous research that could be used productively in the service of the Catholic Church.
The CRF recently released a report titled, “Contemporary Catholicism in England and Wales,” which shows the current religious affiliation of the people in England and Wales. According to the report, for the first time in the history of the two countries, the number of people having no religion exceeds the number of people who identify as Christians. This basically means that half the population of England and Wales have no religion. According to the study, 6.2 million people said they were raised Catholic, however, as of now, only 3.8 million (55.8%) English and Welsh adults identify themselves as Catholic. The main reason for this, as per the report, is that many of the people who were raised Catholics converted to a different religion or just dropped the religion from their lives completely. However, the retention rate of Catholics is the strongest compared to any other Christian denomination in England and Wales. The Church also has the lowest conversion rate, only 7.7 percent.
In an interview given to Catholic Herald, Dr. Stephen Bullivent, the director of the Benedict XVI Center, said that the Church's retention statistics are certainly depressing, however, compared to the other denominations, it is better. He said that it is a losing game for everyone, but they are doing something right that is actually connecting with the people. This statement rings true for the case of the Anglicans. The religion saw a decline in believers by 44.5 percent between 1983 and 2014. However, this could also be attributed to the immigration factor. According to the report, the Catholic population consists of people of African-origin, as well as Asians, Vietnamese, and Filipinos. The research also shows that only 27.5 percent of Catholics attend church services at least once a week. 39.2 percent never attend any Church services. 56 percent of Cradle Catholics (people who were raised Catholic) do not attend any Church services either.
The study also shows that there are approximately ten ex-Catholics for each new convert. The number of converts who were raised as unbelievers is less. About 60 percent of adult Catholics are women. One in four weekly mass-attending Catholics are women over 65.
The study also shows that people in the age group of 24-45 observe religious services more than the people aged 45-64.