Statistical evaluation of the
Roman Catholic Church in the Netherlands
by ir. J.P. Oostveen
Dutch population 1850 - 2000
graphic 2 show the development of the Roman Catholic Population,
graphics and the total Roman Catholic population, while Graphic
1 shows this development in absolute data, Graphic
2 gives this relatively against the total number of the Dutch population.
Herein it can be seen that after an ongoing increase of the number of the Catholics,
Catholic population decreases now, not only absolutely but also relatively. This means, at first the increase of the number of Roman Catholic Population was growing faster than the growth of the total population. Although till about 1975 there was still a growth of the absolute total number of Catholics, from round 1965 the relative growth stagnated at about 40,5%.
While after 1975 till about 1992 the total number of Catholics was rather constant. Because of the growth of the total Dutch population in fact it was a decrease relatively.
After 1992 there is not only a relative decrease of the Catholic population, but also an absolute decrease appears. Today the decreasing velocity is still going faster and the relative number of Catholic population is about 33%. This is already lower then ever known in history, even in the times directly after the reformation (40%) and during the Holland Mission this was higher (table 1).
Source: J.A. de Kok, Nederland op de breuklijn Rome-Reformatie (Assen 1964) p 248
These graphics also show the development of the Mass attendance of the Catholics older then 7 years. This Mass attendance is decreasing from about 85% in the late 50's to about 10% in 1996. Despite of the decreasing of the total numbers of Catholics also the relative number of the Mass attendance is still decreasing.
Participation and cohorts
Mass attendance the baptism, first communion, confirmation, marriage and
funeral are given life time points of participation too. While
graphic 3 shows the development of the Mass attendance, the graphics
4, 5 and 6 show the several manners to express the lifetime participation.
graphic 4 shows the absolute numbers of baptisms, first communions,
confirmation, marriages and funerals between 1950 and 2000, while
graphic 5 and
graphic 6 show these participation relatively against the numbers of
the total Dutch population respectively against the number of birth.
The Mass attendance ( graphic 3 ) shows the development of the Mass attendance of the Catholics older then 7 years as well as the result of a study by the CBS (National Institute of Statistics).
The results of the KASKI show a decrease of the Mass attendance from about 85% in the late 50's to about 10% in 1996 and this is still decreasing, despite of the decreasing of the total baptized population.
Although the criteria of the CBS study of the Mass attendance is different from the KASKI's, this study shows the behavior of the Mass attendance of the several age groups. While between 1971 and 1984 the mass attendance of the elder people increases a little, the Mass attendance of the young people (18 to 35 years) has been decreased very sharp.
Otherwise looking at the cohorts of the Mass attendance the CBS study the following cohorts effects can be shown (table 2)
|group ages in 1971||Mass attendance in 1971 [%]||the 1984 age of the 1971 Mass attendance groups||group ages in 1984||Mass attendance in 1984 [%]||the 1998 age of the 1984 Mass attendance groups|
By table 2 it can be seen that besides the absolute decrease of the Mass attendance of young people, age groups of 18 to 24 in 1984 of 12,8% the 1971 Mass attendance cohorts of the 25-34 and 35-44 decreases from 41,8% to 24,8 respectively from 47,8 to 37,7. The 1971 Mass attendance cohorts of the faith full of 45 years and older has even not grown relatively. Taken into account it is 1998 today the KASKI's results of the Mass attendance can be explained because a lot of the young people are leaving the church even before the age of 18 years.
number of the baptisms (
graphic 4 and
graphic 5 ), till about 1965 this has been rather constant round about
110000. Between 1965 and 1970 a small decrease to about 100000 baptisms
can be seen, where after between 1970 and 1975 the number of baptisms decreases
to about 60000. After 1975 there is still a small decrease of the baptisms
to about 45000 in 1996.
Despite this relatively to the total births the number of baptisms decreases constantly from about 45% of all births in 1960 to about 24% in 1996.
Comparation of the numbers of first communions and confirmation to the numbers of baptisms the same behavior can be seen in a delay of 8 to 10 years.
Although the number of R.C. marriages grows between 1963 and 1970, relatively to all marriages this was constant at about 40% till 1970. After 1970 the number of R.C. marriages is not only decreasing absolutely but also relatively from 40% in 1970 to about 15% in 1996.
Conform the results of the CBS study of the Mass attendance cohort, by which is shown the rather constant to small increase of the Mass attendance of the elder faithful the number of R.C. funerals is rather constant at about 30% of all funerals.
Graphic 6 shows the participation of the faithful relatively to the baptized people. This means the number of first communions has been compared to the baptisms 8 years earlier. The same has been carried out to the confirmations and the R.C. marriages at the average delay of a lifetime of 12 respectively 27 year.
While this shows a rather constant left of 90% of the baptisms during the first 8 years during the whole analyzed period, after respectively 12 and 27 years the left of baptism decreases strongly.
Graphic 7 shows a total different kind of participation of the faithfull. While mostly the first child has been born within one year after the marriage, the average lifetime for getting all the children is about 5 years after the marriage. Because of this delay of the relation between the number of marriages and the number of children born 5 years later gives an indication of the average birth rate per marriage. So in graphic 7 the number of births as well as the number of baptisms are compared to the number of marriages respectively to the number of R.C. marriages 5 years earlier. From this it can be seen that while the birth rate of the non-Catholic people is rather constant between 1,8 and 2,15 during the analysed period, the birth rate of the R.C. faith full varied strongly between 2 and 4. From the end of the 50's till 1964 the birth rate of the faithful is about 3, where after this decreases in 8 years to rather the same level of the non-Catholics during 1970 and 1982. After 1982 the birth rate of the Catholic faith full is increasing to about 2,8 in 1985 to 1990 and even to about 3.8 in 1996 which is still increasing linearly.
Graphic 8 and graphic 9 show the cohort of the birth and baptism respectively. Because a child is making its first communion at the age of about 8 years the number of first communions can be compared to the number of births and baptizes 8 years earlier. So, while in 1973 about 35 % of all the children born in 1965 has made their first communion in 1992 this relative number has decreased to about 26% of the children born in 1984. This has to be compared to the relative number of baptisms in 1965 and 1984 which were respectively about 38% and 30%. So at the age of the first communion about 10% of the baptisms has been lost of the 1965 cohort as well as the 1984 cohort.
The same kind of relationships can be found at the age of the confirmations by a delay of about 12 years. So 4 years after making the first communion in 1973, only 31% of the children born in 1965 have been confirmed in 1977, which is about 10% al all baptism. In the same way it can be seen that in 1996 only 18% of the total children who are born in 1984 have received the sacrament of confirmation, while in 1984 about 30% ware baptized. So a loss of 12%. This means, while related to the number of the baptisms respectively in 1965 and 1984 only about 10% of the baptize cohort has been lost after 8 years, 4 years later at the age of confirmation these percentages has been increased to about 19% of the baptized cohort of 1965 and 40% of the baptized cohort of 1984.
Taking into account that in 1992 about 18,4% of the Catholic marriages were mixed marriages, it can be said that only 17,8% of the people involved to a R.C. marriages in 1992 were baptized Catholic. Because the average age of marriage is about 26 to 27 year in the Netherlands, this number of about 24180 people can be compared to the baptisms of 1965. So looking at the baptism cohort of 1965 of which about 40% has been lost at the age of confirmation the loose of practising baptized faithful has been grown up to about 75% at the average age of marriage in 1992..
It has been noticed that all aspects of the participation shows not only a continuous decreasing of the participation of the faithful but also a continuos decreasing of the number of practicing faithful
Another way to express the cohort behaviour is given by the graphic 10 and graphic 11 in which per cohort year the development of participation is given as a function of the life time. These graphics show a very sharp decrease of participation between the age of first communion and the average age of marriage.
By graphic 12 and
graphic 13 it has been shown that the number of the ordination
increases rather linearly from 1850 to 1930. Round 1930 there was an explosive
growth of the number of ordinations, especially the religious priests.
This high number of ordinations remains rather constant till 1960. After
1960 within a period of 10 years this was completely changed. There has
not only been a very sharp decrease of the ordinations between 1962 and
1969 but also a very large numbers of priests leaving their priestly vocation
between 1965 and 1975.
From graphic 14 it can be analyzed that between 1962 and 1996 there is a zero increase of priests. This means that between 1962 and 1997 the total number of ordinations is equal to the total number of priests who left their priestly vocation in this period. While the large number of priests leaving their priestly vocation had been ended and stabilized after about 1977 and because the number of ordinations is still very low, the total number of active priests has been determined by the loss of priests retiring and the death of the older still active priests.
Graphic 15 shows the relationship between the numbers of ordination and faithful. It gives an indication of the growth of the number of ordinations in relation to the growth of the total faith full, which was increasing slowly from about 0,05 o/oo in 1850 to about 0,1 o/oo in 1900. With a dip round 1920 of about 0,75 o/oo the relative number of ordinations was rather constant at about 0,1 o/oo till 1948. Thereafter, between 1950 and 1958 the relative number of ordinations was about 0,08 o/oo after which it decreases to about 0,01 o/oo in 1970 till 1996.
While in 1965
the maximum of about 4800 priests services the dioceses has been reached,
graphic 16 shows this number has been decreased to about 1500
priests in 1996 and is still decreasing further. Taken into account an
average active priestly life between of 40 to 45 years (from ordination
at the age of about 25 to the retired age of 65 to 70) and the numbers
of ordinations in the last 30 years with the zero growth after 1962, this
will be inclined to about 750 priests.
Graphic 17 shows, while during the 50's each diocese priest services about 1000 baptized Catholic people in 1997 this is about 3500. In some dioceses it is even about 4000 baptized people. In spite of the decrease of the number of Catholics, because of the rigorous lack of vocations this number is still increasing.