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Religious belonging and religious demography

Rising number of those without religious affiliations and diversification of religious affiliations

The diminution of the number of Catholics results in a statistical increase of those without religious affiliations. According to the IFOP survey carried out for La Croix newspaper in July 2006, (...)

The diminution of the number of Catholics results in a statistical increase of those without religious affiliations. According to the IFOP survey carried out for La Croix newspaper in July 2006, in France, the number of those without religious affiliations has risen from 24% to 27% between 1995 and 2006.
During the same period, according to the same survey, other religions and denominations are experiencing a slight growth. Beginning from 1987 to 2006, Protestantism increased from 1% to 2% of the general population, which is close to 1.2 million members. This is most probably due to the situation of Protestant Evangelical Churches in France. Other religions experienced also a noticeable growth, of 6% of the general population or 3.6 million members.

Catholics 65
including those Practising regularly 5
Practising occasionally 10
Non practising 50
Protestants 2
Other religions 6
Without religious affiliations 27

The CSA survey entitled The French and religion conducted in December 2004 for La Croix newspaper also highlights the rate of religious affiliation with regard to other religions than the Catholic denomination. They represent 24% which include 49.4% of Muslims, 21.8% of Protestants and 7% of Jews.

And once again, the diversification is more observable in the category of young people. According to the CSA / La Vie / Le Monde survey carried out in March 2003, 62% of the French population claims to belong to the Catholic Church. This number falls to 40% for the category of young people within the age range of 18-24 and rises to 79% for adults over 65 years old. The 24% affiliated to "other religions" in the category of youth within the age range of 18-24, is broken down into 14% of Muslims, 4% of Protestants, 2% of Jews, 1% of Orthodox Christians and 3% of "other religions and denominations".

Thus, a relative growth of minority religions (especially with the affirmation of Islam observable among young people) corresponds to the notable diminution of the predominant religion. And once again, this is illustrated by the IFOP - Okapi survey conducted in 2005 on a sample of 406 French adolescents within the age range of 11-15.

Question: "You personnally, which is your religion?"

Per category (%) Per French population (%)
Catholic 52 65
Protestant 2 2
Muslim 9 5
Jew 1 1
Other religion 1 2
No religious affiliation 34 25
no answer 1 -
Total 100 100
24 September 2012

Catholic Church remains predominant though experiencing a decline in demographic statistics

France remains a predominantly catholic country since more than half the population claims to belong to this religion. In 2010, IFOP conducted a survey entitled "Catholics in France in 2010". It (...)

France remains a predominantly catholic country since more than half the population claims to belong to this religion. In 2010, IFOP conducted a survey entitled "Catholics in France in 2010". It confirms the observation of the diminution of the number of Catholics in the French population since the 1970s already undermined by this research institute in 2006.

Year 1972 1978 1987 2001 2006 2010
Percentage of Catholics 87 76 75 69 65 64

The results of the survey conducted by the CSA also show a decreasing number of Catholics. A CSA survey carried out by telephone for La Vie and Le Monde newspapers, on 21 March 2003, based on a national sample of 1000 people indicates a decrease in affiliation between 1994 and 2003. Another CSA survey conducted in 2006 for La Vie entitled "The portrait of Catholics" seems to confirm this downturn. The CSA recommends nevertheless that these results be cautiously viewed as the formulation and interpretation of the matter differ with surveys.

Year 1994 (CSA 2003) 2003 (CSA 2003) 2006 (CSA 2006)
Percentage of Catholics 67 62 51

In September 2012, 80% of French claimed themselves Catholics; the number was 92% in 1961 (Ifop survey for La Croix, Catholicism, octobre 2012). Jérôme Fourquet and Hervé Le Bras have recently published La religion dévoilée. Une nouvelle géographie du catholicisme, 2014. This book offers a contemporary profile of French Catholics. It reveals both the lasting influence of the Catholic faith in France and the important diminishing of Catholic religious practice.

7 July 2014

Evolving religious configurations

French religious configurations have been undergoing a significant change since the 1970s. The European Values Survey shows a decline in religious affiliation with numbers falling from 73.7% to (...)

French religious configurations have been undergoing a significant change since the 1970s. The European Values Survey shows a decline in religious affiliation with numbers falling from 73.7% to 50.5% in 2008.

19811990 19992008
Religious belonging 73,7 61,5 57,5 50,5
No religious belonging 26,3 38,5 42,5 49,5

The European Values Survey also observes a decline in the demographic statistics of the Catholic Church which was traditionally predominant in France. This diminution is accompanied by the increasing number of those without religious affiliations and a redistribution of affiliations in favour of Islam in particular, Protestantism (especially Evangelicalism) and Buddhism.

1981 1990 1999 2008
Catholic 95,6 94,0 91,8 85,7
Protestant 1,3 2,1 2,4 3,5
Jew 1,4 0,2 2,4 0,8
Orthodox 0,0 0,0 1,9 1,9
Buddhist 0,0 0,7 0,4 0,2
Muslim 0,6 1,6 0,2 7,4
Hindu 0,0 0,2 0,2 0,2
Other 1,2 1,3 0,7 1,0
Total 100% 100% 100% 100%

In 2008, the question which religious denomination do you belong to? provides the following numbers:

 % of answers  % of valid answers
Roman Catholic 43,0 85,7
Muslim 3,7 7,4
Protestant 1,8 3,5
Jew 0,4 0,8
Buddhist 0,4 0,7
Orthodox 0,4 0,7
Hindu 0,1 0,2
Jehova’s Witness 0,2 0,5
Other 0,3 0,6
NA 49,9 -
Total 100 100
9 June 2016

Change in religious affiliations especially for youth

Decline in religious affiliations has for decades been not an issue unique to the Catholic Church. It has been a general problem since according to the European Value Survey, 57% of the French (...)

Decline in religious affiliations has for decades been not an issue unique to the Catholic Church. It has been a general problem since according to the European Value Survey, 57% of the French claimed to belong to a religion in 1999 whereas there were 62% in 1990.

The information concerning the youth rate of religious affiliation confirms this decline. Thus, the 1998 International Social Survey Programme (ISSP 1998) set up for religions notes that 58% of young adults (18-29) claim to have no religious affiliations.
The IFOP survey entitled The Catholics in France in 2010 also reveals that, if 30% of the French population is less than 25 years old, the number drops to 23% for Catholics (and 16% for practicing Catholics). Similarly, 42% of the overall population is more than 50 years old, versus 50% of Catholics and 55% of practicing Catholics.

The CSA survey The French and religion conducted in December 2004 already showed that 73% of French people claim to have religious affiliations, and that this number rises to 84.5% for people aged 75 years and above and declines to only 60.4% for youth between 18-24 years of age. This ageing was also observable with the IFOP - Okapi survey carried out on 14 December 2005 on a sample of 406 French adolescents within the age limit of 11-15. When responding to the question "personally, which religion do you belong to?", it is notable that the proportion of youth claiming to be Catholics (52%) was lower compared to the total population (65%). On the other hand, the proportion of youth who claim to have no religious affiliations (34%) was higher compared to the total population (25%).

However, a recent survey of OpinionWay (En quoi les jeunes croient-ils ? (In what do youth believe?), OpinionWay for La Croix, March 2018, youth from 18 to 30 years old), seems to indicate a slight increase in religious belief. Compared to a 2016 survey, religious belonging is mainly Catholic in 2018 with 41% (-1 compared to 2016), and Muslim 8% (+4). Protestant, Buddhist, Jewish and Orthodox belonging is stable (respectively 3, 1, 1 and 0%). Belonging to another religion increases, from 2% in 2016 to 3% in 2018. "Nones" are 43% (-4 compared to 2016). 57% claim to have a religious belonging, it was 53% in 2016.
This tendency is similar to what can be observed in other surveys: religious belonging is on the increase because of the growing number of people claiming to be Muslims or from "another religion", and the diminishing number of those claiming to have "no religion".

2 August 2018

Religious statistics of the Catholic Church: the evolution of the number of the clergy

The website Catholic-Hierarchy offers information on the Catholic clergy, updated daily.
According to the Annuaire statistique de l’Eglise catholique, in 2016 in France, the clergy comprised (...)

The website Catholic-Hierarchy offers information on the Catholic clergy, updated daily.

According to the Annuaire statistique de l’Eglise catholique, in 2016 in France, the clergy comprised about hundred Archbishops, Bishops and Auxiliary Bishops in all, some 20,000 active priests and 2,700 deacons. In that year, around 100 ordinations were celebrated.
There are more than 6,000 French missionaries abroad (priests, religious people and secular missionaries), especially in Africa, Latin America, Asia, etc. Meanwhile, there are about 1,800 foreign priests and more than 4,000 members of religious orders working as missionaries in France.

The evolution of the number of priests and deacons

2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2013 2014 2015 2016
Priest present in France 21 187 20 680 20 277 19 640 - - - - - - -
among which diocesan priests 16 075 15 957 15 341 15 008 14 353 14 112 13 822 - 12 363 11 908 11 606
among which priests members of a religious order 5 112 5 083 4 936 4 632 - - - - - - -
Total number of permanent deacons with a ministry 1 499 1 960 2 169 2 250 2 335 2 420 2 450 - 2 633 2 670 2 694
Permanent deacons ordained 81 101 121 94 95 98 84 - 95 103 76

The evolution of the number of members of religious orders

2000 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2014 2015
Total number of French religious sisters (leading either an apostolic or a monastic life) 49 871 44 340 40 600 39 347 37 934 35 934 35 542 29 433 26 658 24 971
Total number of religious priests, brothers and monks 10 121 9 409 8 434 8 388 8 099 7 504 7 508 6 566 5 741 5 490

Source : The Statistical Yearbook of the Church, 2012 statistics), National Service for Vocations, the Conference of Major Superiors and Service for Cloistered Religious Sisters 2005, website of the Catholic church.

3 September 2018