Each week in the bulletin we include part of a report of a survey offered to young Catholics last year to help prepare an Australian response to the forthcoming Roman Synod of the Church, discussing the above topic. Following is another extract from that response:
CATHOLICS IN AUSTRALIA: According to the Australian Census in 2016, Catholics were the largest religious group in Australia, with just under 5.3 million people identifying as Catholic, or 22.6 per cent of the 23.4 million Australian population. While, overall, 52 per cent of the population identified with a Christian denomination and 8.2 per cent with other religions, around 30 per cent of the population, or seven million Australians, did not identify with any religious group. Whilst the number of Catholics has grown in every Census since the first Australian Census was held 105 years ago, 2016 was the first time the Catholic population has seen a net decrease, falling by 147,000 people.
Research has revealed that 140,000 young people aged 15-29 who identified as Catholic in 2011 dis-identified in 2016, with most indicating ‘No religion’ on the Census form. In 2016, the average age of Australians was 38 years, and the average age of Catholics was only slightly higher at 39 years. There were almost 650,000 Indigenous Australians, with just over one-in-five identifying as Catholic. Just over one-quarter of all Australians were born overseas, and around 21 per cent spoke a language other than English at home.
There were 4.374 million young people aged 16-29, and 20.5 per cent were Catholic. Over 525,000 Australian young people aged 16-29 attended a secondary educational institution, with 120,000 enrolled in one of the country’s 343 Catholic secondary schools. A further 865,000 young people were studying at a university or at another tertiary institution, while 318,000 were studying at a TAFE or other vocational institution. The vast majority of young people (60%) who were in the labour force were employees, although three per cent of all young people were owner-managers of enterprises. Thirty-seven per cent of all young people were employed full-time and 22 per cent were employed part-time. Around six per cent were unemployed, looking for either part-time or full-time employment.
In 2011, the number of people at Mass in Australia on a typical weekend was about 662,000, or 12.2 per cent of the Catholic population. The rate of attendance amongst young Catholics aged 15-29 was around five to six per cent. In comparison with the Australian Catholic population in 2016, the National Church Life Survey conducted in 2016 revealed that Mass attenders (aged 15 or over) were generally older (average age was 59 years), were well educated, a higher proportion were born in non-English speaking countries and a higher proportion were married.