France: Survey on French Catholics

Source: FSSPX News


Number of baptisms in 1975: 578,212 (out of a total of 724,000 births), in 2004: 357,262 (out of a total of 767,816 births).

Number of marriages in 1975: 281,786 (out of 387,400 civil marriages), in 2004: 96,863 (out of 271,600 civil marriages)

Number of First Communions in 1994: 241,601, in 2003: 85,722

Number of Confirmations in 1994: 164,613, in 2003: 52,663

(Source: Statistics Directory of the Church and the French National Institute for Statistical and Economic Studies, INSEE)

Number of priests in 1970: 45,059, in 1980: 38,876, in 1990: 32,267, in 2000: 25,353, in 2004: 22,185.

(Source: Statistics Directory of the Church).

Number of seminarians in 1990: 1,219, in 2005: 784.

Number of religious sisters in 1980: 77,994, in 1990: 60,202, in 2000: 44,985, in 2005: 36,995 (Source: Conference of principal superiors)

In the same dossier, a CSA / Le Monde des Religions poll supplied the following responses: 51% of the French declared themselves Catholic; of these 51%, only 8% assisted at Sunday Mass. Of these 51% self-declared Catholics, only 52% believed in the existence of God (26% were certain of His existence and 26% thought it was probable). These 52% saw God as “a force, an energy, a spirit”, compared to 18% who saw Him as “a God with whom I can have a personal relationship.” For these Catholics in 2007, after death “there is nothing”, 26% ; “there is something but I don’t know what”, 53% ; “there is the reincarnation”, 8% ; “there is the resurrection of the dead”, 10%.

The survey also revealed that 81% of French Catholics would be in favor of priests marrying (69% for practicing Catholics), and that 79% would not be opposed to the ordination of women (63% for practicing Catholics).

For 57%, interreligious dialogue was “something important”, and for 23%, it was even “a priority”. Because for 39%, “all religions have the same value”, for 50%, “there are truths in all religions, even if they do not have the same value”; only 7% thought “Catholicism the only true religion”.


Our observations: There is no doubt that the statistics published in this dossier are the expression of a situation of objective collapse. Thus we see that less than one child in two is baptized today in France. The director of Le Monde des Religions, Frédéric Lenoir, hinted at an explanation in his editorial: “With the French Revolution, then the separation of the Church and the State in 1905, France became a secular state, driving religion into the private sphere. For many reasons (the rural exodus, changing values, the rise of individualism…), Catholicism has not ceased losing its influence on society.” Not for an instant does he pose the question of responsibility of the men of the Church for this collapse. And yet, Vatican II and its aggiornamento were supposed to ward off the decline of a Church which would finally find herself seeing eye to eye with the modern world. They have no choice but to accept that the result has not been attained.

Should we come to the same conclusion as Frédéric Lenoir, on his reading the results of the survey commissioned at the CSA: “The Catholics of France who are about to become a minority in the population – and who certainly already see themselves as such…”? This affirmation amounts to intimidation: in democracy – which is secular – a religious minority no longer has a say in matters. The laws are made by and for a people without God.

As to the value and the seriousness of these surveys, we may be permitted to recall that six months ago, La Croix published another inquiry carried out by Ifop which showed 65% as self-declared Catholics. Is it possible to imagine a 14% drop, within six months of the August 2006 Ifop survey, in the CSA survey which came out in January 2007? We should therefore regard these figures cautiously. Especially as the progressives will use this with the idea of imposing a new model of the Church and cast aside any will to return to Tradition. It is sufficient to read the latest work of Mgr. Georges Gilson, the former archbishop of Sens-Auxerre, in order to be convinced. In Les pretres parlons-en (Desclée de Brouwer, 2006), he cites precisely this survey by Ifop to back up his thesis, thus summed up on the back cover: “we have reached a breaking point. We can no longer carry on with our traditional momentum. We must have the lucidity to look reality in the face. We have to reinvent the ‘profession of the priest.’”