Australian Catholics are richer but less fruitful

Australian Catholics are having fewer children than the rest of the population. More of them have jobs than non-Catholics, they earn more, and far more are buying their own homes.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, a new book, The Catholic Community in Australia, by the church's chief researcher, Bob Dixon, shows that the median income for Catholic households is $900 a week compared with $740 for non-Catholics; 57 per cent of Catholics have jobs compared with 53 per cent of non-Catholics; and 70 per cent of Catholic households own or are buying a home compared with 56 per cent of the rest.

Catholics still lag slightly in higher education - 12.2 per cent have degrees or higher qualifications, compared with 13.2 per cent of non-Catholics. But in 1986 only 4.6 per cent had degrees.

On fertility, the census measured women aged 15 to 45 with children aged four or under: for Catholics it was 29.4 per cent, and 30.7 per cent for the rest.

Catholics were originally almost all Irish. Today they are more ethnically diverse than the wider population, with 17.9 per cent born in non-English-speaking countries, compared with 11.9 per cent of non-Catholics. In the past 10 years, the source of Catholic immigration moved from Europe to Asia, with Vietnam and the Philippines replacing Italy and Malta as main departure points.

Catholics, while still the biggest religious group, are shrinking as a percentage of all Australians, down to 26.6 per cent, from 27.3 per cent in 1991. Anglicans comprise 20 per cent.

Attendance at Mass is down, and fewer young people are identifying as Catholic. Once "active" Catholics meant those who attended Mass every Sunday - the rest were "lapsed" - but today the situation is much more ambiguous, Mr Dixon said.

Only 52 per cent of Catholic children attended Catholic schools in 2001. Baptisms are down, confession is in decline and more Catholics are marrying in civil ceremonies.

There were 5,001,264 Catholics in the country in 2001. More than 60 per cent of them married other Catholics, and 17 per cent married Anglicans. Less than half a per cent married non-Christians.

Catholics are richer but less fruitful (Sydney Morning Herald 20/6/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorced by Church Resources)
Australian Catholic Bishops' Conference Pastoral Projects Office
National Church Life Survey

ACU National launches new book by Robert Dixon (CathNews 17/6/05)

No hugs at school (Sunday Mail 19/6/05)
Churches urge poverty focus (The Age 18/6/05)
Suspended jail term for ex-Catholic headmaster (The Age 18/6/05)

20 Jun 2005