Pandemic sparks huge decline in Mass attendance

The latest figures for Mass have plummeted across Scotland after the pandemic.

The figures, which come from an annual survey of Mass attendance in each parish in November, show Mass attendance as having nearly halved across the board.

The Province of Glasgow, which includes the Archdiocese of Glasgow as well as the dioceses of Motherwell and Paisley, saw Mass attendance drop from 79,571 in November 2019 to 47,280 in November 2021.

Likewise, the Archdiocese of St Andrew’s and Edinburgh also saw its attendance drop from 25,588 to 13,724.

A spokesperson for the Catholic Church in Scotland said that Mass attendance at the end of 2021, the latest figures to be taken, was ‘still very much affected by the COVID lockdown.’

“While definitive figures on Mass attendance at the end of 2022 and the beginning of 2023 are simply not available, anecdotal evidence suggests that numbers have grown since the last census,” the spokesperson said.

“The challenge the Church faces now is to encourage attendance back to pre- COVID levels.”

As recently as the year 2000 this survey showed more than 200,000 people attending Sunday Mass in Scotland. This latest figures are less than half that.

Marriages within the Church have also declined. In 2019, 1,019 marriages took place – less than half of the 2,044 a decade previous.

Despite this, the Church has seen a rise in permanent Deacons. In 2011, there were 65 in the Church in Scotland.

Ten years later, when these numbers were last made available, that number had risen to 80.

The reason for this is not clear, though the rising visibility of permanent Deacons in the life of the Church may be a factor, especially when coupled with there being fewer priests to run Scotland’s parishes.

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