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The most recent survey was conducted in May 2021 (ACBC)

A new report has shed light on the changing nature of the Catholic Church in Australia, with more of the faithful shifting online and worshipping in non-English languages. Source: ACBC Media Blog.

However, the number of Catholics worshipping regularly in parishes across the country is declining.

The latest Australian Catholic Mass Attendance Report was released this week by the National Centre for Pastoral Research.

According to the National Count of Attendance – which is conducted every five years – Mass was celebrated in at least 42 languages across the country.

In May 2021, when the most recent survey was conducted, just over 53,000 people attended Mass celebrated in a language other than English each weekend, which represented 13.6 per cent of all Mass attenders – a rise of 3.3 per cent since the last count in 2016.

The four most common languages other than English were Vietnamese, Arabic, Chaldean and Italian.

Most of the National Count was conducted during the first four weekends in May 2021 amidst COVID-19 restrictions, while a small number of counts took place in June, July and August.

The average number of people at Mass in Australia on a typical weekend was about 417,300.

There was a decline of around 206,000 (33%) attenders between 2016 and 2021, with women making up 56 per cent of attenders.

Accounting for the rise in Australian population and decline in Catholic population over the five years, the rate of Mass attendance among Australian Catholics was 8.2 per cent, a decline of 3.6 per cent from 2016 to 2021.

The report found much of the decline could be explained by the impact of COVID-19 restrictions and people’s cautious approach towards resuming regular patterns of social interactions in the community. 

The report noted anecdotal evidence that some people who moved to participating in online Mass during COVID-19 had developed a preference for continuing this practice, while others who ceased attending Mass altogether had not felt the desire to return. 

Also popular during the restrictions was the Diocese of Wollongong-produced Mass for You at Home, airing at 6am on Ten, with an average of over 30,000 households across regional and city areas viewing the TV program each weekend.

The full report can be found here.


National survey shows Australia’s Catholics are online and multicultural (ACBC Media Blog)


An overview of the Australian Catholic Mass Attendance Report (The Catholic Weekly)