National Catholic Reporter

The Independent News Source

To produce a good Catholic, raise your child Protestant

 |  NCR Today

Mark Gray of CARA recommends that parents wanting good Catholic offspring should raise their children Protestant but make sure they marry a Catholic spouse. 

True, his advice is admittedly tongue in cheek, but it is based on good social science data. In a fascinating blog posting, Gray, the Nate Silver of Catholicism, analyzes the data on converts to the Catholic Church.

What he found is that converts are more likely than cradle Catholics to attend Mass, go to confession, be registered in a parish, contribute to the collection, be involved in their parish, be proud to be Catholic, and say that their faith is among the most important thing in their daily life. Oh yes, publishers note: they are more likely to read religious publications. 

"Why would adult converts be more knowledgeable and believing than other Catholics?" asks Gray. "Perhaps it was the eight months to a year they spent studying intensively in an RCIA program?" Gray notes that about 100,000 converts will enter the church this Easter through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA). 

Most (72%) converts were brought into the church by their spouses. Interestingly, not many ex-Catholics (13%) cite marrying outside their faith as a reason for leaving, so don't blame your in-laws. 

Help keep NCR going!
We rely on donations to bring you the latest news.
Donate today.

About 7 percent of Catholics entered the church as adults, but they typically make up about 12 percent of the congregation on Sunday. Seven percent may not sound like a lot of people, but as Gray points out that, if all the converts to Catholicism formed their own church, they would almost equal the total number of Presbyterians.

However, before you celebrate these numbers, remember that for every one person joining the church, four leave.  Gray says that the church could increase the number of converts if it lowered its requirements for entry, but would they stay, he asks. He also believes that without the RCIA process, the quality of the converts would suffer. 

If you decide to raise your child Protestant, remember you also have to find him or her a good Catholic spouse. Good luck. 

[Jesuit Fr. Thomas Reese is a senior analyst for NCR and author of Inside the Vatican: The Politics and Organization of the Catholic Church. His email address is treesesj@ncronline.org. Follow him on Twitter: @ThomasReeseSJ.]

Editor's note: We can send you an email alert every time Thomas Reese's column, Faith and Justice, is posted. Go to this page and follow directions: Email alert sign-up.

NCR Comment code: (Comments can be found below)

Before you can post a comment, you must verify your email address at Disqus.com/verify.
Comments from unverified email addresses will be deleted.

  • Be respectful. Do not attack the writer. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the original idea will be deleted. NCR reserves the right to close comment threads when discussions are no longer productive.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through. If you see something objectionable, please click the "Report abuse" button. Once a comment has been flagged, an NCR staff member will investigate.

For more detailed guidelines, visit our User Guidelines page.

For help on how to post a comment, visit our reference page.

 

Feature-flag_GSR_start-reading.jpg

NCR Email Alerts

 

In This Issue

August 15-28, 2014

08-15-2014.jpg

Not all of our content is online. Subscribe to receive all the news and features you won't find anywhere else.