These facts are for 2014 unless otherwise noted.
In 2014, there were 151,364 Catholic marriages registered in the United States.
According to the 2014 General Social Survey (GSS):
- 53.9% of adult Catholics are currently married, 3.3% are separated, 6.4% are widowed and 27.7% have never married.
- 8.7% of Catholic adults describe their current marital status as divorced.
- 20.7% of Catholic adults have experienced divorce at some point in their life.
- The average age of first marriage for Catholics is 24.
In 2013, according to the Vatican's Annuarium Statisticum Ecclesiae (ASE):
About 23,302 new petitions for marriage nullity were introduced in the United States. Some 23,591 marriage nullity processes were completed. Among these, a sentence in favor of nullity was found in about 21,079 cases.
A decree of nullity is a sentence by a church court, confirmed by an appellate court, that a putative marriage was not valid from the start because something was lacking: full knowledge and consent by both parties, freedom from force or grave fear, or some other factor needed for a valid marriage.
“Putative” (meaning apparent or seeming) is a key word in the entire process. It refers to a marriage in which at least one party acted in good faith, believing it was valid at the time it took place. Children from a putative marriage are considered legitimate even if the marriage is later ruled to be invalid. This has been a source of one of the major popular misunderstandings of annulments; namely, that an annulment somehow makes the children of that union illegitimate. Church law explicitly rejects this interpretation, saying that children of a putative marriage are legitimate even if the marriage is later judged to be invalid.
- Most Catholic children today are being raised by married Catholic parents.
- 79% or 8 in 10 Catholic mothers and fathers are married.
- Fewer than 1% of Catholic parents surveyed are widowed.
- 76% of married Catholic parents have a Catholic spouse.
- 3% of parents are single and have never married.
- 13% of Catholic parents surveyed are single and living with a partner (of the opposite sex).
- 4% are divorced and 1% are separated.
- Parents are less likely than the overall Catholic adult population to be single and never married, divorced, or to be widowed.
Mass Attendance among Catholic Parents
- 22% of Catholic parents attend Mass weekly, compared to 24% of all adult Catholics.
- 53% of Catholic parents attend Mass at least once a month, compared to 43% of all adult Catholics.
- 66% of Catholic parents with three or more children are much more likely than those with fewer children (48%) to attend Mass at least once a month.
- 26% of parents with a teen in the home are more likely to attend Mass weekly than those with an infant (18%).
- Parents who have separated or divorced or who are single and have never married are among the least likely to attend Mass weekly (15% for both sub-groups).
Sacraments, Religious Education, and Prayer
- 66% of Catholic parents say that it is “very” important to them that their children celebrate their first communion.
- 61% indicate the same importance for their children being confirmed. The divide between parents expressing importance and those expressing less importance is frequency of Mass attendance. Fewer than 1 in 5 parents who rarely or never attend Mass consider sacraments for their children to be “very important,” while more than 8 in 10 parents who attend Mass at least once a month feel that First Communion and Confirmation for their children is “very important.”
- 68% of all Catholic parents do not have any of their children enrolled in formal Catholic religious education.
- Of the 32% of parents who reported having children enrolled in a parish-based religious education program, 42% are weekly Mass attenders, 27% are monthly attenders, 11% report attending a few times a year and only 4% of those who rarely or never attend Mass.
- Weekly Mass attenders and Hispanic or Latino parents are among the most likely to believe core Catholic teachings without doubt.
- 71% of parents agree “somewhat” or “strongly” that prayer is essential to their faith (80% among weekly Mass attenders).
- 36% of parents pray at least once a day, 23% pray less than daily but at least once a week and 1 in 5 pray less than weekly but at least once a month (20%). 12% pray a few times a year. Only 9% say they rarely or never pray.
- Reasons why parents may not pray include: busy schedule or lack of time (51% “somewhat” or “very much”), having missed Mass (39%), or that prayer just did not cross their mind (39%).
- 40% of parents pray in Spanish and 59% in English. 1% pray in some other language (e.g., Polish, Portuguese).
- 76% of parents say they more often pray by themselves than with family members. 7% of parents say they more often pray with family members than alone and 17% pray alone and with family about equally.
- Parents are most likely to “always” pray: during times of crisis (42%), when feeling anxious or depressed (34%), when feeling blessed (31%), before bed (26%), during Lent (18%), during Advent (18%), when they wake (13%), before meals (13%), and at family gatherings (10%).
- Parents are most likely to typically use the following while praying: the Bible (41%), Catholic prayer books (39%), other Catholic publications including prayers (33%).
- 16% of parents pray the rosary at least once a month (7% at least once a week). Weekly Mass attenders are most likely to pray the rosary at least once a year (68%). Among those who do pray the rosary, half say they typically do so with their family (18% of all Catholic parents).
- 12% of parents with digital devices have at least one Catholic-related application or “app” that they use regularly. This is equivalent to an estimated 1.6 million parents using a Catholic or faith-related app on one of their digital devices.
- 14% of parents regularly read or follow at least one Catholic-related blog online. This is equivalent to 2.1 million parents reading or following Catholic or faith-related blogs.
- Weekly Mass attenders are among the most likely to use a Catholic related app or read a Catholic related blog.