THE latest Census 2001 figures show that Catholics remain the largest force of any religious denomination in Australia.
This is a telling sign that the Catholic Church retains a relevant place in Australian society – even if many of the 5 million people who consider themselves Catholic do not regularly attend church.
The size of the Catholic population is also poignant considering the increasing trend towards religious diversity in the Australian community.
While many of the other traditional Churches have been losing members, the Catholic Church has shown a resilience to be admired.
This is particularly significant in the face of a 200 per cent jump in atheism.
Also worth noting is the slight decline in the number of people declaring no religious affiliation.
What this shows is that people are searching for spiritual meaning in their lives, though not necessarily through the established Churches.
The challenge the Catholic Church faces in 21st century Australia is to reach out to both non-active Catholics and those who are seeking spiritual meaning and to show them that the fulfilment which they seek can be found in Christ and his Church.
The Catholic Leader is an Australian award-winning Catholic newspaper that has been published by the Archdiocese of Brisbane since 1929. Our journalism seeks to provide a full, accurate and balanced Catholic perspective of local, national and international news while upholding the dignity of the human person.
The Catholic Leader acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the First Peoples of this country and especially acknowledge the traditional owners on whose lands we live and work throughout the Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane.