Use of cell phones in the Church. Photo: Sol de México

How Do Catholics Relate to the Digital World? An Investigation Answers the Question

What percentage and with what regularity do they consume digital contents related to the Catholic Faith? How do they relate to printed contents? Who do Catholics currently believe in to be informed about their faith?

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry

(ZENIT News – Porta Luz / Rome, 28.08.2023).- CARA, the Center for Applied Research of Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., published the results of very valuable research on how and to what degree Catholics in the United States relate to the digital world (the full Report in English can be read here).


The results reflect a significant increase in the proportion of Catholics adults who say they  watched religious or spiritual video contents in 2023, compared with 2011 and 2005. At present, 45% of Catholics did so in the three months of 2023 before being surveyed, compared with 24% in 2011 and 28% in 2005. 


However, only 26% read Catholic contents on the Web or other digital aids. Likewise, only 29% say they listened to religious contents in the three months before being surveyed, although it’s an advance compared with 13% in 2011 and 12% in 2005. 


61% of Catholic adults said they found new ways of practicing their faith on the Internet during the pandemic. And, according to the 2023 survey, 58% said they continue to do such things online, even though the pandemic has passed. One way in which Catholics stay connected with their local community is by reading their diocesan newspaper. The proportion Catholic adults that now read their diocesan publication increased after the pandemic. Before the pandemic, approximately three out of four didn’t read it. Now, in 2023, 49% read it. Read even more than the diocesan publications are the parish bulletins. Six out of ten Catholic adults (61%) read their parish bulletins in the three months prior to being surveyed. 


Main Results


Attendance at Mass . . . 


  • 21% of Catholic adults in the United States attend Mass at least once a week. This percentage is similar to those that attended before the COVID-19 pandemic at the beginning of 2020. However, 3% continues to view Mass at home due to the pandemic. 
  • 23% attend Mass less than once a week, but at least once a month.
  • 27% attend Mass a few times a year, probably for Christmas and Holy Week.
  • 26% never attend Mass or almost never.


Digital Habits Related to the Faith . . . 


    • 45% of Catholic adults watched a religious or spiritual video in the three months before the survey.


  • Other common ways of us using the media include listening to religious or spiritual content on an audio device (29%), reading of a Web or digital spiritual page (26%), reading a printed copy of a religious or spiritual magazine or newspaper (18%) and following religious or spiritual posts on the Internet (16%). 
  • A significantly greater number of Catholics have watched or listened to religious or spiritual contents  compared with the previous surveys carried out in 2011 and 2005. In 2005, 18% watched religious or spiritual videos and 12% listened to religious or spiritual contents. 


  • In the three months prior to the survey, 49% of those surveyed said they had read their diocesan magazine or newspaper. 17% read it on paper, 21% online and 10% on paper and online. The percentages of reading their diocesan newspaper or magazine has increased significantly since CARA’s surveys of 2011 and 2005. 
  • 51% don’t read any diocesan publication.
  • 89% of recent readers of diocesan publications evaluate their content as excellent (33%) or good (56%). One out of 10 says the content is just fair and 2% say it’s deficient. 
  • 41% of Catholic adults would prefer a printed publication of their dioceses. Three out of 10 would prefer only one online offer. 


And the Social Networks . . . ?

  • Prefer Facebook (77%), Instagram (44%), Twitter (32%), TikTok (27%), Pinterest (23%), LinkedIn (21%) and Snapchat (20%). 6% said they had a profile on some other site or application
  • 98%  of those surveyed have some type of profile on the social networks. 46% of these Catholics said they identify themselves as Catholics in a profile. 
  • A third of those surveyed with profiles on the social networks said they shared information on Catholicism in their profiles. 
  • Those surveyed tends to trust the local diocesan sources to provide specific and impartial contents about the Catholic Church. Thus 32% take them from the dioceses, 31% from the diocesan Web page, 21% from some diocesan publications. 21% trust the USCCB (Web of the Episcopal Conference.
  • Only 11% trust profane sources to replicate Catholic contents. 


Use of Digital Tools . . . 

  • 84% of those surveyed use an i-phone at least once a day and 70% several times a day.
  • Almost half — 49% — use a portable computer daily. 36% use a desktop computer daily.,30% use a computer daily. 18% use an e-book reader daily.
  • 17% use a system of games daily.
  • Approximately three out of ten, namely 31%, have an application related to the Catholic Church or Catholicism on their electronic devices. 


Consumption of Contents on YouTube . . . 


  • Almost nine out of ten of those surveyed — 88% — have visited YouTube.
  • A third of those surveyed visit YouTube several times a day, 16% visit it once a day. One out of five  — 19% –, visit it several times a week.
  • 12% never visited YouTube.
  • The most common content that Catholic adults watch regularly on YouTube are music videos (51%), followed by comedy (36%), educational contents (34%), music (36%), educational contents (34%) and religious contents (30%). 
  • 22% of Catholic adults follow influential Catholic people.
Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry


Support ZENIT

If you liked this article, support ZENIT now with a donation