Catholic infant baptisms are down nationally to the lowest level since World War II – but baptisms in the Archdiocese of San Francisco are holding steady at a rate 50 percent higher than the national mean.
“We’re at a point where baptisms as a percentage of births are only 20 percent, which we haven’t had since World War II,” said Mark Gray, pollster for the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University. The percentage was 24.7 percent in 1943, he said. It spiked later, and then from 1995 to 2004, it was about one quarter of all births, he noted.
In contrast, in the archdiocese of San Francisco, about 30 percent of infants were baptized Catholic during most of the past quarter-century, according to an analysis by Catholic San Francisco.
Gray first noted the national trend on the CARA blog, Nineteen Sixty Four, Feb. 7, in a post titled “The Growing Mystery of the ‘Missing’ Catholic Infants.” In a follow up interview, Gray said CARA will need to do further polling to find what is behind the change.
California is among a handful of states where this drop is not occurring. In 2010, the rate of baptism was 35.9 percent in California, according to Nineteen Sixty Four….
Some who are not married might feel they do not have a right to baptize their babies, but “Pope Francis strongly encouraged his priests not to turn anyone away from baptism” when he was archbishop of Buenos Aires, Gray said.
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