According to a new study by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA), Nigeria may have the highest Catholic Mass attendance in the world.
94% of self-identified Nigerian Catholics surveyed said they attend weekly or daily Mass when asked “Apart from weddings, funerals and christenings, about how often do you attend religious services these days?”.
CARA also found that weekly or more frequent Mass attendance is highest among adult self-identified Catholics in Kenya (73%) and Lebanon (69%).
The center says it is not entirely clear which country has the highest Mass attendance rate, “because surveys have not been conducted on the topic in every country in the world.” In Malta for example, as many as 40% of Catholics go to Mass weekly, but it is not included in the survey.
“The next segment of countries, where half or more Catholics attend every week, includes the Philippines (56%), Colombia (54%), Poland (52%), and Ecuador (50%).
Fewer than half, but a third or more attend every week in Bosnia and Herzegovina (48%), Mexico (47%), Nicaragua (45%), Bolivia (42%), Slovakia (40%), Italy (34%), and Peru (33%).
Between three in 10 and a quarter of Catholics attend Mass every week in Venezuela (30%), Albania (29%), Spain (27%), Croatia (27%), New Zealand (25%), and the United Kingdom (25%).”
In the United States, 24% of Catholics attend Mass every week or more often prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, in the most recent poll in late summer 2022, 17% of adult Catholics reported attending Mass this frequently with 5% watching Mass online or television from home instead.
Countries with similar Catholic Mass attendance to the United States are: Hungary (24%), Slovenia (24%), Uruguay (23%), Australia (21%), Argentina (21%), Portugal (20%), the Czech Republic (20%), and Austria (17%). Countries with the lowest levels of weekly Catholic Mass attendance are: Lithuania (16%), Germany (14%), Canada (14%), Latvia (11%), Switzerland (11%), Brazil (8%), France (8%), and the Netherlands (7%).
Interestingly, Catholics who consider themselves more religious are not more likely to go to Mass. For example, Lebanon has high Mass attendance, but Catholics there who call themselves religious is much lower compared to other countries.
CARA also noticed Catholicism is strongest in the developing world, where GDP per capita is lower.
“It appears to be contracting in wealthier ‘developed’ countries. The precise mechanisms associated with economic development and wealth that are impacting Catholics’ participation in the faith and identification as religious are unclear. Whatever they are, they matter significantly.”