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Report shows communication gap with Gen X faithful

The proportion of Generation X Mass attenders who accept orthodox statements of Catholic beliefs and moral teachings is lower than that of Baby Boomers, according to an analysis published in the latest issue of the Australasian Catholic Record (ACR).

The figures, compiled by Australian Catholic Bishops Conference's Pastoral Projects Office Director Bob Dixon, is based on an analysis of 10,815 responses from a national random sample of 255 Catholic parishes which took part in the 2001 National Church Life Survey.

It says the differences between generations is most marked with regard to premarital sex, where the percentage of Gen X'ers saying that it is always morally wrong (35%) is only about half of the percentage of Pre-Boomer attenders (65%).

Generation X refers to people who were aged 25 to 39 at the time of the survey. Baby Boomers are those born between 1946 and 1961. Generation X Catholics make up 22% of Australia's Catholic population, but on a typical weekend they comprise only 12% of Mass attenders.

Mr Dixon argues that young adult Mass attenders are not abandoning orthodox Catholicism. Instead he says the problem stems from an inability to grasp the language with which Catholic religious truth is communicated. He believes they need assistance with articulating the faith that already attracts them to religious practice.

Among those who do attend Mass, almost two out of every three (63%) are female, and they are very well educated, with 40% having a university degree or higher qualification, in contrast to Baby Boomers, 33% of whom have a qualification of that level.

The Australasian Catholic Record has a long tradition of publishing articles by Australian writers in the areas of religion, church history, theology, ethics and current issues. Subscription or single issue purchase enquiries can be directed to the Manager -

Acceptance of key Catholic beliefs and moral teachings by Generation X Mass attenders (Australasian Catholic Record 17/5/04)

NCLS Research

18 May 2004