(ZENIT News / Washington, 06.25.2023).- In a study carried out recently by the Pew Research Center, marked differences were revealed between Catholics and Protestants in regard to satisfaction with their religious services and the connection with their congregations. These disparities include key areas such as preaching, music, and sense of belonging in the religious realm.
Protestant churches have always been proud of their preaching and music, particularly those based solely on the Bible to give form to their Sunday services. In contrast, Catholic churches have a profound Eucharistic tradition but, according to the Pew study, they are perceived by Catholics themselves as having the worst preaching and music in the country.
The data compiled revealed that 82% of Protestants that attend regularly religious services in person say that they are “extremely or very satisfied with the sermons they hear. Likewise, 76% of Protestants who follow services on television or on line expressed a similar satisfaction with the sermons. On the other hand, only 61% of Catholics that go to church regularly in person said they were extremely or very satisfied, and this percentage was reduced further to 57% among Catholics who follow services by electronic means.
The research also revealed that Catholics feel less connected with their congregations compared to Protestants. 71% of Protestants attending religious services regularly in person said they felt a great connection with the other faithful present. However, only 50% Catholics said they felt the same way.
These results could pose questions on the decline in attendance in Catholic churches. According to the 2011 Pew Research Center study, approximately one out of three persons raised as Catholics have left the Catholic Church and approximately half of them have become Protestants. A possible explanation might be that some former Catholics are attracted by the better preaching and music in Protestant churches, as well as greater connection with their congregations.
In response to these findings, some are wondering if Catholic priests could learn from Protestant ministers how to improve their preaching. Moreover, the question arises as to how Catholic institutions could improve the formation of future priests in the art of preaching. Debated also is the possibility of investing more funds in contracting professional musicians in Catholic parishes in order to improve the quality of the liturgical music.
In conclusion, the differences in the satisfaction with religious services and the connection with the ecclesiastical community between Catholics and Protestants are very obvious according to the Pew Research Center study. These results pose challenges.