In the Land of Loch Ness, One Monster Can Hide Another

January 17, 2023
St. Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh

Scottish Catholics seem to prefer streaming services like Netflix to their Sunday Mass. The hierarchy is sounding the alarm, because if the trend is not reversed, many parishes could close. This is one of the consequences of Covid-19 which has accelerated the wave of secularization in Scotland.

What if Nessie had a little brother named Netflix? In this case, it would no longer be the brave fishermen on the shores of Loch Ness who would be threatened, but the Catholic Church of Scotland.

The case came to light on January 9, 2023, in the London Times, which revealed that the Archdiocese of Glasgow saw its income drop from 30 million euros to 12 million euros in the space of only three years, from 2018 to 2021.

These three years were marked by the Covid-19 epidemic which caused many parishioners to lose their way to Sunday Mass: “With a few rare exceptions, attendance and income for each diocese have considerably decreased following the pandemic. The reduction in income is starting to be sorely felt,” confirms the spokesperson for the archdiocese of Scotland’s largest city.

A drop in attendance and income, the consequences of which could be terrible for the future of the Catholic Church: “If the situation does not change, many parishes will have to close,” confides a priest of the diocese of Edinburgh who also questions the priorities of Scottish Catholics.

Indeed, Covid-19 has led to a record increase in terms of the consumption of digital products, including streaming services such as Netflix.

“If we spend our savings on subscriptions to Netflix or sports channels, then we will have to draw the consequences at the parish level,” explains the Edinburgh priest quoted by the Times.

Basically, it is the secularization of Scottish society – in the image of the West – that is highlighted here. In 2016, more than half of Scots said they were not affiliated with any religion, only 14 % of respondents declaring themselves Catholic. And of these 14%, how many still prefer Sunday Mass to the screen, which has become the tabernacle of the new digital religion?