Study shows US Catholic population stood at nearly 59 million in 2010
Published: May 8, 2012
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The U.S. Catholic population stood at 58.9 million in 2010, according to a new census of religious congregations. The number of Catholics is lower than the 62 million Catholics reported in 2000, but the difference is due to a change in the way data was collected during this go-round, said Cliff Grammich, a researcher working for the Glenmary Research Center who compiled statistics from 20,589 parishes, missions and other places with regularly scheduled weekend Masses. The 2010 U.S. Religion Census: Religious Congregations and Membership Study released May 1 showed that the number of Catholics is three times that of the country's second largest religious body, the Southern Baptist Convention, with nearly 19.9 million members. Sponsored by the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies, the study is conducted every 10 years and coincides with the once-a-decade U.S. census. It also collected data from Protestant, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist and other religious congregations. Grammich told Catholic News Service that he analyzed statistics provided by individual parishes on the number of registered households, registered individuals, infant baptisms, burials and Mass attendance to arrive at the final count. In earlier studies, less specific data was sought from individual dioceses rather than from parishes, he said. "The counts are the best that could be supported by religious data, sacramental statistics and survey data," Grammich explained.
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