Church attendance in Philippines declines

Failure of families to sustain values formation among young people blamed for decline in churchgoers
Church attendance in Philippines declines

Candle vendors (foreground) wait for customers as devotees attend a Mass at the Malate Church in Manila. The number of Catholics attending church services in the Philippines is declining, according to a recent survey. (Photo by Noel Celis/AFP)

The failure of families to sustain values formation among young people is one of the factors that has led to a decline of church attendance in the predominantly Catholic Philippines.

"[Young people] don't feel that it is important to attend Mass on Sundays," noted Henrietta de Villa, former Philippine ambassador to the Vatican.

Results of a survey conducted last month showed that church attendance among Catholics is declining even as most Filipinos claim that religion is very important in their daily lives.

The survey by pollster Social Weather Stations (SWS) noted that the proportion of those who attend religious services weekly was lowest among Catholics at 41 percent.

De Villa said the result of the survey shows the importance of a "solid Christian family" that can guide the so-called "millennials" in the practice of their faith.

The lay leader said while she was happy about the growing number of Filipinos who said religion is "very important" to their lives, "it is sad that few people are going to church."

"It is very important that families should start to form their children in faith while they are young," said De Villa.

Archbishop Emeritus Oscar Cruz of Lingayen-Dagupan said "family and life apostolate" should be strengthened. 

"It will have a big influence on people," said the prelate.

Archbishop Crux also blamed the proliferation of modern technology and other recreational activities as among the causes of Filipinos' declining interest in church activities.

De Villa, meanwhile, said that aside from strengthening Catholic families, priests and bishops should also be conscious in sharing "meaningful" homilies, especially to young people.

Results of the SWS survey, conducted in late March, showed that Catholics are the least active among Filipino groups in attending weekly religious services.

Of the surveys on church attendance conducted by the pollster since 1991, weekly attendance at religious services has always been lower among Catholics.

The highest recorded annual average weekly church attendance among adult Filipinos was recorded in 1991 when the Philippine Catholic Church held its Second Plenary Council.

The March 2017 Social Weather Survey was conducted using face-to-face interviews with 1,200 people.

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