Monday, February 12, 2007

The State of the Catholic Church in America, Diocese by Diocese

Rev. Rodger Hunter-Hall and Steven Wagner in Crisis ranked the 176 U.S. dioceses using the data as of the end of 2005 and 1995 in the Official Catholic Directory. They selected three criteria: percentage change in the number of active priests; ordinations as a percentage of active priests; and adults received into the Church as a percentage of Catholics. They then used diocesan rankings in these three categories for a composite score, which they then used to rank all dioceses.

While the Church grew overall in that ten year period, the number of adherents declined in 68 dioceses. The total number of active priests declined in 141 dioceses. There were no ordinations in 2005 in 48 dioceses.

The Archdiocese of Milwaukee's 2005 rank was 155th in change in priests, 95th in ordinations, and 150th in receptions. Its composite rank went from 167th in 1995 to 162nd in 2005.

The author's observe,
The Church has been slow to come to terms with changes in the societal environment of the United States in which it functions, most especially the emergence of a dominant culture that is thoroughly secular. Many—too many—in positions of authority have perceived their jobs as simply to manage the decline, having become dispirited over the adversity that this new cultural environment poses.

Others have become dispirited in the sense of coming to believe the principles underlying the secular environment superior to Church teaching.

I found of particular interest,
It may strike one as superficial, but diocesan-sponsored Web sites provide significant insight into the personality of the dioceses. Good signs: easy access to substantive information for persons considering becoming Catholic, returning to the Faith, or considering a vocation. Bad signs: prominently featuring on the home page references to clergy abuse or helpful guides to making an on-line donation.

Here's our Archdiocese's web site.

(via Ten Reasons)


  1. I am not sure about this survey... I was shocked to see LaCrosse and Madison Dioceses being ranked so low. Both dioceses have strong Catholic cultures (in certain pockets anyway) and very solid Priests (and seminarians) atleast of the ones I've met, to say nothing of some stellar bishops. I saw a study last year saying LaCrosse was a very succesful diocese in terms of ratio of seminarians to Catholics, this study has them at the bottom of the barrel.

  2. What you saw doesn't inherently contradict the statistics. The good things you see are encouraging if being used as means or examples to improve the conditions that produce the diocese-wide statistics.