Friday 29 March 2024

French Catholic dioceses report jump in adult baptisms

The number of adults being baptised in France in 2024 has significantly increased over previous years.

The bishops’ conference of France has released a report showing that this year 7,135 adults will receive the sacrament of baptism at the Easter Vigil. 

This is a substantial 32 per cent increase on 2023 when 5,463 adults were baptised.

The figures confirm an ongoing trend of growth in the French Church. 

In 2023, the Catholic Herald reported the number of adult baptisms in France that year had increased by 21 per cent over the number in 2022, and by over 50 per cent compared to 2021, when 3,639 adults were baptised.

In the past twenty years, those requesting baptism in the Catholic Church as adults has more than doubled.

The growth is not merely at the expense of baptisms at a younger age either, as the figures show that in 2024, the number of adolescents being baptised doubled compared to the year before. 

Adolescent baptisms in France have seen consistent growth over the course of the last five years.

Furthermore, it appears that the cohorts choosing to be baptised as adults are getting younger every year. 

In 2024, a record-high 36 per cent of those choosing to receive the sacrament will be in the age range of 18-25 years old. Before Covid, they represented only 23 per cent of adult catechumens.

The proportion of those in the 26-40 years old bracket also increased between 2022 and 2023.

The statistics highlight stronger growth in rural areas than in the cities. 

While 81 per cent of France lives in urban areas, those living in rural areas account for 29 per cent of adult catechumens.

The rural diocese of Saint-Claude (Jura) saw an increase of over 200 per cent – while the rural dioceses of Besançon, Dijon, and Clermont saw increases of over 50 per cent.

Notably, more women than men are choosing to become catechumens; a difference which remains stable over the years. Some 38 per cent of the converts are men while 62 per cent are women.

The report by the bishops’ conference also recorded the religious backgrounds of those seeking conversion, which has fluctuated over the years. 

This year, the proportion of those of Muslim heritage converting increased from three to five per cent, while 38 per cent of converts did not hail from a Christian familial background at all.

While what is generally referred to as the traditional Catholic movement continues to grow across the world, especially amongst young people who find they are enchanted by the Latin Mass, it is noteworthy that France has long been an epicentre for traditional Catholicism.

France, among medium- to large-sized nations, offers the most Latin Masses of any country in the world proportional to its population. In gross figures, it is second only to the United States of America.

If not counting Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX) masses, France still ranks second globally in terms of gross figures and has over 203 Latin Mass centres across the country; whilst first-place USA has over 496 (it should be noted it has four times France’s population).

Furthermore, the international priestly societies and institutes which exclusively offer the Latin Mass around the world were either founded exclusively by, or co-founded by, Frenchmen. 

For example, Marcel Lefebvre (the founder of the SSPX) alongside Gilles Wach (the founder of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest) and multiple of the co-founders of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter all hail from France.

The Latin Mass pilgrimage to Chartres from Paris – which takes place at Pentecost every year and in 2024 will be attended by Cardinal Müller – is also increasing in numbers each year and breaking numerical records of those in attendance. 

In 2023, over 17,000 people attended the pilgrimage.