This year, 5,463 adults will receive baptism at Easter in the dioceses of France, an increase of 28% compared to the previous year. The infographic just published by the Conference of Bishops of France (Cef) makes it possible to refine the evolution. It should be noted that the Cef data does not include the baptisms of adults conferred in the priories of the Society of St. Pius X.
The 2023 vintage of the newly baptized is promising: there are a thousand more, compared to last year, to enter the Church through the door of Holy Baptism. Of the hundred dioceses in France, 17 have seen their number double, and only 15 dioceses are decreasing: in particular these are dioceses which had recorded a significant increase in the number of neophytes last year.
But the number is not the only one to evolve: it is associated with a clear rejuvenation. In five years – according to the Cef file – the proportion of 18-25 year olds has increased sharply, rising from 23% of the total number of baptized in 2019 to 33% in 2023. This trend is confirmed among young minors, college and high school students, whose increase is notable.
As in 2022, 2% of seniors, i.e. a hundred people over the age of 65, have asked to enter the Church.
This rejuvenation observed among neophytes is in fact one of the consequences of the loss of the transmission of faith within families: the family tradition of the baptism of young children has been declining for many years.
At the same time, there is an increase in requests for baptism among children over the age of 7 and among adolescents in the 12-17 age group. Many young people come knocking at the door of the Church. The vast majority of the baptized grew up in families with a Christian tradition, but without having been initiated into the faith of their grandparents.
Where do these adults who request baptism come from? The increase is stronger in rural dioceses than in urban dioceses. Thus, among the 16 dioceses which have an increase of more than 100%, 15 are rural dioceses. It is also interesting to note that the increase in adult baptisms is less strong in the Paris region (+ 17%) than in the rest of the country (+ 33%).
Apart from the age group of seniors where the proportion between men and women is reversed, in all the other age groups, whether 18-25 years old, 26-40 years old, or 41-65 years old, women represent a large majority of adults who request baptism (around 63%).
In relation to their professional origin, students now represent 22% of catechumens. The share of workers, employees, and technicians remains the most numerous (37%) but is decreasing from year to year. The proportion of executives and teachers remains identical to last year (14%), as well as the self-employed or people exercising liberal professions.
The data published and commented on by the Cef does not include the dozens of adult baptisms conferred during the Easter vigil – or throughout the year – in the priories and chapels of the Society of Saint Pius X, but it would not be surprising if the profile of neophytes attached to Tradition resembled that of adults baptized within the dioceses of France.