"New research shows that the Catholic population in Britain is falling dramatically, despite Church claims that new immigrants from Eastern Europe are bringing about a revival.
The new figures, from the Pastoral Research Centre, show that the numbers actively participating in Catholic life in England and Wales has fallen by more than half a million in the last 11 years. The statistics compiled independently of the Church are based on the number of people baptised in the last 50 years and more recent marriages, baptisms and deaths. It shows that many of today's Catholic adults are not returning to the Church to marry or baptise their own children or bury their dead.
[...]Mr Spencer said: "Mass immigration is masking a huge alienation among the Catholic community. There is a huge unexplained loss of people to be found when you look at those who were baptised as babies, but who are not getting married or holding funerals and subsequent baptisms in Church."
Mr Spencer said that his statistics showed that 530,000 Catholics had ceased even minimal involvement with the Church since 1997, whereas official Church statistics put it at 72,000.[...]The new figures show that in 1958 almost 68,700 couples were married in a Catholic Church, whereas in 2005 just 14,700 Catholic weddings took place.
Most controversially, he found the number of late baptisms had risen over the last 50 years. In 1958 there were fewer than 5,000 baptisms of children between one and seven. In 2005 this had risen to 16,000. Mr Spencer attributed this to the need to prove baptism in order to get a place in a Catholic school.[...]Mr Sanderson said that the late baptism phenomenon reinforced the idea that the selection criteria that faith schools enjoy are forcing people to be dishonest, underhand and to act against their conscience in order to get their children a place in a state school of their choice. We do not accept that any admissions criteria are 'fair' which are religiously discriminatory or privilege religious schools to the detriment of community schools."National Secular Society, 18 January 2008