There has been considerable interest in the recent invitation to Anglicans to return to Rome through "Anglicanorum coetibus" and a good bit of news about the flying bishops who gave up on the Church of England and joined the Roman Catholic Church. All of which would lead one to believe that the Church of England is falling apart and the Church of Rome is in the ascent in England. Not necessarily so.
Thinking Anglicans, in its most recent blog entry, "Church Attendance in England, 1980-2005, and other statistics" has brought to our attention two sets of statistics that point in another direction.
|from British Religion in Numbers|
The first, "Places of Worship in England and Wales" lists places of worship other than those of the Church of England. The Roman Catholic Church has seen a slight decline in the number of places of worship - from 3707 to 3652. The only notable increase has been in Muslim places of worship.
|From British Religion in Numbers|
The second report, "Church Attendance in England" provides more telling information: between 1980 and 2005 Cof E attendance fell from 1.370.400 to 870,600. In the same period the Roman Catholic Church fell from 2,064,000 to 893,100. CofE fell by 1/3, the RCC fell by 3/5.
More, while the whole number of persons attending worship dropped from approximately 5 million to 3 million, it is the RCC and CofE losses that account for most of that drop. In the case of the RCC, the difference is astounding. The RCC moved from being the church with the greatest number of attendees to being almost on a par with the CofE. The two together account for over 50% of all church attendance. Interesting to note further that the percentage of the population that attends any Christian church dropped from 11.1 to 6.3 percent.
Unless there has been a massive turnaround in the past five years the attendance figures of RCC and CofE are probably about equal. The RCC church has been bleeding badly, worse than the Established Church apparently. It would seem the attraction to the RCC can not be that it is a growth industry by comparison to the CofE.