Catholic Marriages Down, Adult Baptisms Up in France

Reveals Statistical Guide to Catholic Church

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PARIS, FEB. 11, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Less than 50% of French children are baptized and 12% of French Catholics practice their faith, states the 2005 Guide to the Catholic Church in France.

The guide, prepared under the direction of Monsignor Stanislas Lalanne, secretary general of the French episcopal conference, offers statistical data from a survey conducted in March 2003.

According to the study, 372,839 children younger than 7 were baptized in 2001. That same year, there were 774,800 births in the country.

However, an increase was noted in the number of adult baptisms, which numbered 18,826.

Regarding reception of first Communion, 186,586 children made their first Communion in 2001, compared to 260,946 children in 1992.

Of the 295,882 civil marriages that took place in France in 2001, less than half, 118,087 married in the Church, down from 137,567 in 1992. Mixed marriages accounted for 12% of all marriages.

Approximately 62% of the French are Catholic. Of these, 12% practice their religion regularly and 15% sporadically. Also, 6% are Muslim, 2% Protestant and 1% Jewish.

There are currently 24,000 active priests in France. In 2002, 132 new priests were ordained. There are 1,749 deacons, the majority permanent.

France benefits from the service of 9,524 men religious and 46,007 women religious. More than 6,000 French priests, men and women religious and lay people are missionaries in Africa, Latin America and Asia. Some 1,000 foreign priests and over 3,000 foreign nuns carry out their mission in France.

The Catholic Church in France runs 8,719 schools with a combined student body of more than two million. Over 35,000 students attend Catholic institutes of higher learning.

The Church in France collects some 317 million euros ($408 million) annually.

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