Catholics told to stand up and be counted for census

People should not be afraid to indicate their religion as Catholic in next Tuesday's Census, according to Sydney archdiocesan chancellor, Fr John Usher, describing the optional religion question as an opportunity to make a "declaration of your faith."

Although answering the religion question on the Census is optional under the Australian Constitution, Fr Usher strongly encouraged Catholics to respond because "the census is very helpful in the development of parish and archdiocesan plans," according to a Catholic Weekly report.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics says the question is included as religious organisations are "the biggest providers of services, outside of government, in a number of areas such as schooling, health services, aged care services, and community support facilities".

"The important thing is for the leaders of the Church, the bishops in Australia to know the number of Catholics in the country, and so it also becomes a tool for them to contemplate how they might go about further evangelisation," Fr Usher told The Weekly.

"All religions use this information to ascertain the spread of population they have across the country.

"It is not just how many Catholics are in Australia, but where we are spread and located and where the Church needs to be reaching out to people in the big cities and in the rural and remote areas."

The biggest change from the 2001 census is the move to the internet.

Households will be given a PIN number that will give them access to a special web page upon which they can complete their census details.

The census collector for that house will be notified by SMS that the census for that property has been completed online.

Census day is Tuesday, 8 August. Collectors will return from 8 August to collect returns.

Don't be afraid to write 'Catholic' on census (Catholic Weekly, 6/8/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Census of Population and Housing (Australian Bureau of Statistics)

Pell blames Sunday sport for decline in mass attendance (CathNews, 17/12/03)
Australia's Catholic population tops 5 million (CathNews, 18/6/02)

4 Aug 2006