Churchgoing in the United States continued its downtrend for the thirteenth year in 1971, with but 40 percent of the adults of all faiths attending their places of worship in a typical week, according to a recent Gallup poll. In 1958 the percentage was 49. Last year the survey indicated the following percentages: Catholic, 57; Protestant, 37; Jewish, 19; men, 35; women, 45; white, 40; non-white, 44.
The National Association of Laity, a Roman Catholic group, has declared after a year of investigation of financial records that diocesan books are so incompletely documented that it is highly inappropriate for United States bishops to spend an alleged six million dollars a year lobbying for public tax support for their schools.
“Transubstantiation,” the belief that the bread and wine become the actual substance of Christ’s body and blood, was one of the points that the Church of England found “repugnant to the plain words of Scripture” when the Church of England split with Rome in the sixteenth century. Now a joint theological commission, growing out of a meeting of Pope Paul VI and the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1966, has reported a substantial agreement on the doctrine of the Eucharist, “the most important statement for Anglicans and Roman Catholics since the Reformation.” It is expected that official church action, if it comes, will be years away.
The National Council of Churches has noted that although ministers are usually paid less than the people they preach to, in twenty-one Protestant denominations ministers drop a median offering of $14.65 into the weekly collection plate, compared with $5.52 per family among their parishioners. Only 4 percent of the lay members say they have increased their weekly offering as a result of personal home visits from pastors and deacons. Few parishioners appear to remember the church in their wills.
As fewer priests and nuns are available for teaching assignments, the Roman Catholic Church has had to turn to lay teachers for parochial schools. Now the Federation of Catholic Teachers, a New York City union, wants a salary range from $8,500 to $15,400 for persons with college degrees, and parity with high-school teachers after six months. Current parochial salaries for elementary teachers with degrees are $6,600 to $9,600; high school teachers earn from $7,200 to $13,000.
A former Egyptian Army major, born Nazeer Gaved, has taken possession of his throne as Pope Shenouda III of Alexandria, Patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church, and the 117th successor of the apostle Mark. The Coptics regard themselves as both the true descendants of the ancient Egyptians and the heirs of the “original” Christians. The new pope, installed with pageantry and ceremony at St. Mark’s Cathedral in Cairo, said, “We are undergoing something of a revival, bringing more people to the church and giving it more meaning and significance.”