Spain: Historic Drop in the Number of Catholics

September 21, 2021
] Cathedral of Vitoria-Gasteiz

According to the latest barometer from the Center for Sociological Investigations (CIS) of September 2021, Spain has reached its lowest number of Catholics, 57.4% (1.8 points less than in 2020), and the second lowest number of practicing Catholics, 18.4%.

The absolute minimum of practicing Catholics was reached in May 2020, in the midst of a pandemic and with many churches closed, at 17.6%.

The question asked was: “How do you define yourself in matters of religion: practicing Catholic, non-practicing Catholic, believer of another religion, agnostic, indifferent or not believer, or atheist,” the concept of “practicing” being left to the discretion of the interviewee.

Considering the percentages of those who go to Mass several times per month, the result gives 24.1% as practitioners compared to those who say they are believers. Thus, the percentage of practicing Catholics in Spain compared to the population is 13.8%.

A September 2021 projection reveals that those who consider themselves to be atheists, i.e., those who deny the existence of God, represent 14.6% —and therefore outnumber practicing Catholics.

These figures remain questionable, but it is not unreasonable to consider that the lasting downward trend is very certain.

The short to medium term forecasts are not good at all. The number of canonical marriages had already hit an all-time low before the pandemic, and last year's numbers were even worse.

In 2020, church marriages fell 72.7%, to just 9,444 unions, but only time will tell if the number will rise again and it may simply the effect of the closing of the churches.

The impact of this situation on infant baptism is known to everyone. Remember that the birth rate is 1.26 in Spain, the lowest in Europe, except for Malta. And this situation has been going on for almost 30 years.